A window of opportunity has presented itself so will make the most of it to catch up.
As mentioned before, the hotel into which I had been booked was big, glossy, totally impersonal and not particularly helpful but it did have a BATH - a very rare treat indeed, even in Addlestone. I have spent the last 3 days tramping the streets of Beijing and it does almost take 3 days to get anywhere! Distances are vast so walking doesn't actually get you very far and I've used a variety of different transports - taxis (which are very cheap but difficult to get due to the demand), rickshaws. tuk-tuk type vehicles and tomorrow I'm going totry my luck with a bicycle. They have brilliant cycle lanes which are the size of an average road in the UK. Everyone on and off the road carries on as though they were the only person left on the planet, completely ignoring the existence of anyone else. Life as a pedestrian has its moments as well. This afternoon, whilst crossing the road on a green light (not jay walking as the locals do), I found myself caught in between 2 lanes of on-coming traffic. I was right in the middle of the sandwich of cars and unable to go backwards or forwards, with all the cars making straight for me.
Less hairy moments consist of meeting Canadian Bob, as arranged, in Tiannamen Square yesterday. We, plus a number of his friends, went to a Peking Duck restaurant for lunch and then last night I went to the theatre for some Peking Opera. The cheif delights of Peking Opera are, for me, the colour. the choreography, the drama and the absolutely hilarious sub-titles - they truly have to be seen to be believed. One of the gems last night was entitled "Stealing the Silver from the National Bank' - wonderfully poetic fantasy of tumbling, juggling and ritualised singing and footwork, totally at odds with its very prosiac title!
Beijing, I have been told and am having trouble believing, is the size of Belgium but it does make the distances understandable. It has been transformed out of all recognition (since I was first here 14 years ago), with the ultimate intention of making it another Singapore. I feel that this is a shame and that it is in danger of being sanitised out of existence. Gone are all the street vendors, although the hawking and spitting goes on unabated - not very Singapore! It still has its gems, of course - the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven et al but they are becoming increasingly swamped by the skyscrapers and 6 lane freeways carving their way around the city. I hope,during my stay here,to find more of the old China before that too is swept away.
Well, that just about wraps it up for now. Bob and I are planning to do a hike along a bit of the Great Wall on Wednesday. then it's off to Shanghai on Wed. night. So, until the next time...