Beijing is full of surprises. Walking back to Raffles Hotel I pass the walls of the Forbidden City and into Tiananmen Square and look up into the night sky. Maybe a hundred kites. Some so far into the night sky that you could see them only by their twinkling lights. Twinkling lights on a Kite ? Oh yes, trust the Chinese to come up with that one. So here I am in Beijing determined to soak in as much of the cultural past as possible. I know about China’s explosive economic growth. It’s everywhere … but oh yes, Beijing is full of cultural surprises …..
The incredible Forbidden City/Palace. Took me more than half a day just to walk through it. The harmony of its architecture so Buddhist. Some of the best interiors though enclosed from public viewing for protective work in anticipation of the thousands that will visit during the Olympics.
To eat not in the best restaurants that Beijing has to offer, but in even the better ones that are hidden away from the tourists gaze. The ‘Dhaba’s’ of Beijing. And if you pride yourself in your ability to handle the spiciest of foods, think again. I made the mistake of smiling nonchalantly ” Oh, well, as Spicy as you can get”. Big Mistake.
And every one is just so friendly !! Start a conversation anywhere in Beijing only if you have time to listen to someone’s life stories and are willing to tell some of your own.
And the Beijing Opera ! Remember that great film “Farewell my Concubine” ?? Any one see it ? So I had to go to the Opera House. It is exactly as it was 200 years ago. And the grace, agility and the stage presence of the actors was beautiful. I tried to imagine myself as a worker in Beijing 200 years ago. Coming every night to watch Opera. The only difference of course was all the female parts were played by men at that time. The female actors on stage were quite stunning. Glad somethings change.
All of this in my first day in Beijing. Oh well, business meetings start tomorrow. But I am determined to soak up as much more culture as I can. This is the first time i have been to China. Ever since I was a young boy, China has been my Mythic land. I am finally here. And before the God of Economic progress subjugates all the other Gods.
And yes, for those that are wondering, Chairman Mao is still alive and well in China.