Tuesday, April 05, 2005

After traveling for 24 hours (18 of them in the air) I arrived in Beijing at 9:30 p.m. Sunday night. After a good night’s rest I jumped back into action on Monday. I took a walk down to Tiananmen Square (my hotel is on the main drag- East Chang’an Street) where the immense open space is bounded on the East and West by the Stalinesque People’s Congress and the Grand Museum of the Revolution and the Natural History Museum.

Across the street from the Square on the North is the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the tall red structure capped by yellow tiles and curved eaves marking the first gate to enter the Forbidden City (one of my favorite places in China, I will go and visit again this week and will provide a better explanation for it).

On the South side of the Square you have the monument to the soldiers of the revolution and Chairmen Mao’s mausoleum.

Further South is Beijing’s Old City where mile upon mile of maze-like Hutongs (traditional Chinese alleys and streets for living) outdoor markets, shopping centers and restaurants all congregate to make up what most people’s traditional and romantic vision of China is. Loud, chaotic, bustling with thick crowds of humanity, bicycles and every 1, 2, 3, and four wheel conveyance imaginable.

My lunch was a delicious serving of dumplings with various stuffings. A dish of twelve cost 8 yuan ($1).

Dinner was a feast of Peking Duck (they say that you must do two things when visiting Beijing, eat duck and walk the Great Wall) with one of my Chinese partners.

Today I got up early, ate, worked out in the hotel gym and spent the rest of the day working. The rest of this week will be a mix of meetings, dinners, work, sightseeing, meeting old friends and colleagues and spiritual pilgrimage.

I will be going once again to the Great Lamasery Buddhist Temple complex on Thursday for some of meditation, prayer and reflection.

Things will definitely pick up and get more interesting as the weekend arrives when a series of parties and bar and nightclub hopping are on the horizon.

Then on Monday I leave for Liwu, but there will be more to report from Beijing before that.