susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sorry, notes - dashing off in a minute

First night:

Continuing my programme of self harm, I fell down the sodden cardboard on the steps from the little restaurant Kent, our guide, took us to, taking the 'watch out, wet steps' sign with me ... my right buttock is now one bruise ... This is now known as the Great Fall of China.

Beijing is massive. Tower blocks studded with aircon units. The roads jam packed with traffic. And spotted from the tour bus - KFC, McD, B&Q, Ikea, Carrefour, Starbux .. it all feels so foreign.

There are still lots of bikes, carrying two up, the lady sitting sidesaddle on the parcel shelf behind her sweating swain. But lots of people have electric bikes these days. I've seen furniture tied on to bikes, and the biggest loads of cardboard. It all feels very lively - probably because people are doing things on the streets - mending cars, selling piles of brightly coloured fruit, holding their small children up so they can wee and poo through their split trousers.

Kent tells us about property prices - there's a strong feeling of familiarity. Apparently lots of people hold of buying till the prices drop.

There are also areas of single storey hutongs - some rather shanty looking, but the rickshaw ride went through a great little area with open fronted cafes with sofas overlooking a lake. Sadly, it was overcast, but when the sun shines, this must be a fab place to hang out. Oh, as ever, no time, no time...

The pollution lessened on the second day, and disappeared on the third day, so we could see the hills beyond the city from the hotel 10th floor.

Because there are so many people, and I guess wages are pretty low, everywhere is labour intensive, which means the city, though shabby, is very clean, and the municipal flower and shrub beds are neatly trimmed. Lots of the signs are in both Chinese and English. It feels foreign, but not unfamiliar. I'm not sure I'd want to try the metro, or the buses quite yet, though - it took me years in England, and I still don't know how to use London buses ...

The Chinese symbol for 'lady' is headless, with her legs crossed ..

Lots of shiny red lanterns and weeping willows.

I waved to some Chinese people in a tour bus which drew alongside, and they waved and grinned back. They're very cheery and friendly, but VERY LOUD!! They shout all the time, so you're never quite sure whether they're having an argument or merely talking to each other. It's not very inscrutable..

Breakfast in the hotel includes gratinated peas - baked beans al dente to you and me.


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