Beijing

Beijing. Twenty-two million people and counting. The entire time we spent there, that multitude was flung at us: riding bikes down the streets, maneuvering vehicles down the road, walking the Great Wall. People in droves were everywhere, happy and welcoming.

Great big Wall
Great big Wall

I knew it would be a huge city, and I knew it would be smoggy. I intended to keep time in Beijing, waiting for the more pleasant part of our journey to begin. Stanley had written up his list for crossing-off, so I booked a hotel, reserved a couple tours, and figured I would hold my breath (smog) until his list was depleted and we could go. I never gave a thought about the mood of the city or the spirit of the people.

Or the sight of county-fair-like booths offering street food delicacies in huge raw piles waiting for the enormous fire-encrusted wok. Or modern and expansive avenues with modern and expensive retailers luring all those residents to come and buy. Late model cars by the tens of thousands surprised me, as did ancient waterways in the heart of downtown. And outright affection. Hand-holding and arm clasps all day long. We did the tourist things, and for once, it seemed like a fun vacation thing to do. I was happy to go to the tea ceremony and the traditional lunch and the jade factory simply for the spectacle of all those people pressing into all those locations and doing it with grace and welcome.

I was especially glad to climb a section of the Great Wall with many, many Chinese people. For one part of one morning, they shared their treasured icon with me. Old, old stonework, and my new first impression brought me to respect the invitation that China is giving the world.

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19 thoughts on “Beijing

  1. Sounds exactly like the Bejing that I remember, except you failed to mention how good the street food often was, and their drivers using the sidewalk when the streets were clogged. When was your visit? Great post, makes me almost want to go back.

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    1. We were there in April. I didn’t mention how good the street food was because I didn’t taste it! I just looked – and watched the showmanship of cooking it. I was a bit surprised that Stanley didn’t tackle some of that octopus – dropped wiggling into a wok.

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      1. You need to write about the entire trip. Visiting China is such an interesting experience, a view to an ancient culture.
        Where else did you visit? Did you get to Shanghai, my 2nd favorite city there, or Tsing Tau, my favorite city in China? Do Tell

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      2. We always stayed at the large hotel on the Bundt. It is near the Ice Palace and other points. The river walk area there was an interesting sight, a native food stand next to a Pizza Hut, next to a silk store, next to a Dunkin’ Donuts. Quite a sight.

        And yes, Tsing Tau is much nicer, really a reminder of San Francisco with lots of hilly streets and flowers, and a beautiful beach.

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  2. That was interesting! Old and new in a nice mix, millions of people, culture – and the food! And you doing “touristy” activities 🙂 I’ve only made a short stop in southern China and also visited Hong Kong, which is a world in itself.

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  3. Those Chinese have been at running a society for a couple thousand years. The masses of city dwellers whom you described are beyond comprehension. We have enough trouble managing 350,000,000 of us (in th USA). Organizing more than a billion… Wow!
    Oscar

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