Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Beijing Xin Nian

It's blitzing cold in Beijing like they say, but that doesn't bother Mao. He looks pretty cold year round. When Jennifer and I doffed our hats and shuffled past him with the rest of the peasant-pilgrims he didn't even blink at our hat hair. He seemed about as quiet as a New Yorker on jet-lag afraid to use a squat pot.

We're holed up about ten minutes away from Mao's mausoleum next to a mall filled with the best haute couture yuan can buy. Most people though on this brisk new year's eve seem not to buy anything but rather mill about looking cool sipping lattes as a supplement to their buns topped with dried shredded pork. We of course decline such buns in favor of the sweet-bean filled ones while admiring the Chinese characteristics of modern life.

It is absolutely wonderful to sleep 12 hours straight every given night after wandering hutongs (twisting labyrinthine alley ways stocked with cobblers, meat roasters, bun steamers, bicycle fixers, card board collectors and other petty merchants standard to organic community life) in a manner true to the uncomprehending stare of nascent Chinese learners who are perpetually lost. This would be great were it not for the perpetual need to find meat-free food aside from occasional roasted chestnut merchants and sweet-potato men such as those that hang about the East Gate of Beijing University.

Thus presents our crowning achievement as of December 31: the mapping and acquisition of food from the finest vegetarian restaurant in all of Beijing. Hundreds of beautiful dishes made to melt in the slowly-filling chopstick manner of in this case Buddhist consumption. Daoist temples, Chinese sculpture gardens, Forbidden Cities, and resolutions in the search for Internet cafes not withstanding, this has been our best thing yet. Tomorrow we fly to Lanzhou in Gansu Province and begin our slow ascent into Northwest China on the first day of the New Year. Hopefully we'll find some coal-fired warmth insulated by even more smog among the Tibetans, Hui Muslims, Uyghurs and regular provincials.


Post a Comment

<< Home