While in China I jotted down notes for a friend on how I found the different places I visited. The notes were intended to go on Facebook, but word limits there preclude that. My blog posts get posted to Facebook, so I’m posting here for the benefit of those following there.
I won’t be making a habit of posting non-book/personal posts on this blog. It’s not what it’s for. I will though post up each of the notes I made for Beijing, Xian and Shanghai.
The notes are as I wrote them at the time, I’ve not sought to tidy them and they were made in a hurry (usually on the way to the airport), so they’re a touch stream of consciousness.
Caveats aside, here are my contemporaneous notes from Beijing:
Beijing feels like a capital. It’s large, chaotic, noisy. There’s a diversity of styles and looks, though it’s humid as hell so men tend to t-shirts and polo shirts and women to short skirts or light dresses. Sportswear is common. Some guys hoist their shirts up to their chests to cool off, mostly the flabby guys…
The roads are full of all sorts of vehicles; cars; motorbikes; motorised bicicles; motorised tricycles; tuk-tuk style three wheelers; motorised carts; and of course bicycles.
The pollution is so heavy everything is in soft focus. Music blares out from competing radios, hawkers tout their wares, nobody smiles much in public but people give up their seats readily on tubes and buses to those who need them more.
I saw two middle aged women dancing in a square to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. They were in time and looked pretty good. Nearby was the bar district, heaving and loud, but the best square there was full of pensioners dancing together with open air lessons nearby. The old here aren’t shut out of sight.
I’ve eaten in neighbourhood places that were good and a modern Chinese place that was excellent. I’ve seen starfish and locust on a stick (though not the same stick). I had lamb there, Anthony Bourdain would not have approved.
The Great Wall is impressive. What struck me with that though was the hills. In Chinese art hills often look oddly lumpy and crumbling. I always assumed it was an issue of painting style. Actually, that’s pretty much how they look. The countryside is stunning in places.
Xian next. I’m looking forward to it but I could happily have seen Beijing for longer. Then again, one should always leave before one wants to.