Liushiyi men, (Gate 61) how cool is that?My hotel (the Hong Run Business Hotel in SE Beijing) thoughtfully changed a little rug in the elevator every day, like a calendar (or those little-girl underpants I never had but actually would be useful for traveling). Now back in the Islands, it is still Saturday, although the Saturday I left seems like a lifetime ago, a dream. And it was, really.
Xingqiliu (Saturday)Dear reader, I would have posted, but the intermittent wifi access with the VERY COOL 3G iPad was not the real problem. My blog, along with my YouTube account, was blocked by the Great Firewall. Highly privileged persons (the Wizard, my son and my office) did get some email updates, but broadcasting my musings was not possible. And I was unable to download my photos daily, but I blame Apple for that--I was not able to get a camera connector for the VERY COOL iPad before I left. Attempted USB workarounds failed (the proprietary connector apparently triggers the application). On the other hand, it gave me the opportunity to buy two (cheap) 2G memory cards for my faithful Casio EXILIM in Chinese department stores and geek shops. I was able to do it speaking Mandarin.
So, now home, after a glorious nap in the soft Hawaii breeze on my heavenly Tempur-pedic (why the Chinese make these wonderful fluffy quilts only to sleep on rock-hard mattresses I will never understand), I have downloaded nearly 2,000 photos through which I must sift to correlate with my various notes (recorded both on the VERY COOL iPad and in a little Moleskine notebook). Categories are organizing themselves: Chinese old and new contrasts, ubiquitous doting grandparents and indulged grandchildren, a theme of China then and now. Food. Kung fu. Televison (I LOVED watching TV in Beijing: CCTV has whole channels devoted to Chinese opera, martial arts dramas, and cultural studies). Confucius, politics and image. Taoism and Buddhism. Food. Cute Chinese men and annoying young Chinese teens, Little Emperors at puberty. Air and water. Living Chinese painting scenery. Did I mention food?
My last night in Beijing, where I magically connected for a few precious hours with a friend from Scotland on her way to Wudangshan, (a sort of Taoist yin/yang arrival and departure moment) we dined in a lovely little restaurant, well away from but near Wanfujing, distinguished mostly by being next to a public toilet, catching up over many pots of jasmine tea, laughing hysterically over a menu (with photos) that included:
- Trepangs with elbows
- XO sauce explodes squid
- Pineapple money cattle
- The young acupuncture needle of boiler fertilizes a cattle
- Pig hands with chili
- Stir fry a rape completely
- The egg stir fries a garlic bolt
- The shelled fresh shrimp fried the Chinese yam
So, stay tuned and bear with me. There's lots more to digest, so to speak.