once every quarter, for a day or two. MSF-Belgium has an office there,
and I periodically meet to review administrative issues and so on.
Since I’ve been a student of China and its history and culture, off
and on, for more than twenty years — without ever making it to
Bejing! — this was a big deal for me. And I loved the city. I loved
it much more than I thought I would, and I found it far more
manageable than I thought I would.
I suspect the friends I’ve had who have visited in the past just
assume that I know what a wonderful city it is, so they feel free to
complain about the traffic, and the weather, and the people and how
they’re not as friendly, and pollution, and blah blah blah: all the
complaints you can make about any big city, really. But let’s face it:
this is one way cool city. With lots of really great history and
buildings, and a consumer economy that is booming — very nice, for a
second weekend in a row, to have access to Starbucks…and yes, I did
partake. Even though a latte and a cheesecake (such indulgence!) cost
five times the price of my dinner at a lovely little Szechwan place
where the waitresses really enjoyed chatting with me, and asking me to
help them translate their menu. (I learned the word for frog, after
they showed me the frogs sitting in their tank…poor guys, they
looked so happy in their tank.) Oh, and then there was the double dip
at Haagen Dazs…you see, these are all things we don’t have in
Nanning, so I felt a bit like a yokel in the big city. 🙂
Anyway: this is Paul at the moat around the Forbidden City, with one
of the guard towers behind me. Yes, it’s very impressive, and very
beautiful. What follows are other photos from my weekend in Beijing.
Thanks, as always, for your interest and support!