China - Tea for Three

Traffic in Beijing is terrible.  Probably the worst I've seen anywhere in the World.  If you want to go anywhere, the only efficient way is via the subway.   When I decided to pay a visit to the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in January, 2012, the only real option was to take the subway.

The subway is still crowded but it is efficient.   When I arrived at the Tiananmen Square subway stop, I got off the train and onto one of the dual escalators to the top.   Riding on the escalator next to me were a young Chinese man and woman.   The man looked over at me and said in very good English: "Wow, you are really tall.  Where are you from?"   I answered and we began a conversation.   He and the woman he was with were first cousins from another part of China.   It was the first trip for both of them to Beijing.   They asked me where I was going and I told them to visit the tomb.   "It's closed today" he told me.  " But we will walk with you there just to double check."  We headed across Tiananmen Square as they peppered me with questions about the USA.   They had never met an American before and they were as excited to be in Beijing as I was.  

Steve Hunsicker in Tiananmen Square outside the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong

The tomb was in fact closed but all three of us were thoroughly enjoying the conversation.  They suggested we find a place to have tea.   We walked a little longer until we found a tea shop, something not unusual in China.  

We found a place and instead of just a cup of tea, I suggested we do the tea ceremony.   It was a great choice.   They wanted to know if it was true that people in the USA only drink tea when they are sick.  And they asked if everyone really had an iPhone.   I showed them my Android and said with a smile: "Not everyone!"   That lead to a conversation about the so called "Chinese knock-offs."   They laughed and said yes, a lot of people had the counterfeit phones but everyone knows they aren't real.   They said people can tell the difference and that a real iPhone was still very much desired.

We talked about their town and then onto religion.  The tea ceremony lasted for several hours and it was a stimulating conversation and provided me with great insight into the Chinese culture.

When the bill came, I was fully expecting to pay for all of it.  In fact, I wanted to pay for it.  But they insisted on paying their share.  They said they had never expected to meet an American in Beijing and were thrilled to have a native English speaker to practice speaking with.  (Their English was very good)

They said that due to their religious beliefs we couldn't have a farewell photo together.  That may be true or it may be they didn't want the Chinese authorities to see a photo of their meeting with an American.  So no photos, but I do have video of the tea ceremony linked below..  (No faces.) 


I've also linked a short video about my trip to Beijing or what the Chinese call "The Center of the World.".  

Dates of Travel

  • January, 2012

Places Visited

  • Beijing




This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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