Nihao from Bejing Baby D
I hope all is well. I’m sorry I’ve been off line, but you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to connect to the internet in Beijing, let along China.
I’m now in Shanghai, after five days in Olympic central Beijing. I had a good time in Beijing, good by way of I got to see all of the sites — Forbidden City (now Palace Museum) Tianemen Square ( me and Chairman Mao connected); the Temple of Heaven; the Summer Palace and of course the Great Wall, which is truly magnificent, not to be missed if you’re ever in China.
I’m going to have to back track because 5 days of activity took place and I have to fill you in on it. First of all Beijing is an interesting city. For the most part the city’s infrastructure revolves around four major roads or rings, starting with or around the Forbidden City, then expanding outward. It’s not too difficult to navigate, especially if you’re a city dweller, you just have to get your barings. I even took the subway and transferred a couple of times. I don’t know what it is about me and subways but I feel that I have to ride them in every city I visit. There’s definitely no mistaking that Beijing is the host city of the 2008 Olympics. Signage that reads Beijing 2008 — One World, One Dream is on every billboard, poster, duratrans, bus stop, bus side — everywhere. In an effort to get everyone on board with the One World… campaigns, retailers were asked to cover up their store signs, so as not to promote conflicting messages. As you would suspect with any Olympic Host City, Beijing is crowded. Imagine, the city has about 20 million residents as it is, now add about a million or two more. CROWWWWWDED! And not only crowded but a little funky. Between the heat and intense humidity and haze (LA has nothing on Beijing), the Europeans who have an aversion to shaving their pits and deodorant, the city unfortunately suffers from a malodorus disposition.
On the other hand I do have to say that the PR campaign the government has put in to place was quite effective. The people of Beijing, are very, very helpful to a fault. There are times when I had five front desk representatives trying to help me connect from one hotel room to another in the same room. But they were sweet. I also expect to see along of saliva on the street, and surprisingly I didn’t. I was glad.
Lori, you asked that I experiment with the different types of delicacies offered in China. UH, NO! A wise person once told me don’t eat anything I can’t identify. Actually, my advise is don’t eat anything you can identify such as skewered barbequed larvae and cock roaches. Needless to say, I reacquainted myself with the fine cuisine offered at chez McDonalds and the five star KFC. It didn’t help that I felt a little queasy for my first three days in Beijing and that’s not fun. Between the pollution haze, the intense heat my stomach was doing a topsy turvy thing. And did I tell you, there is always a smell in Beijing, whether it’s the smell of new carpet or industrial cleaners in newly constructed buildings, or the smell of a sharpie on the street or just straight up FART, there’s always a smell in Beijing.
Ok, now that I’ve given you the low down on the city, I can begin to tell you about my trip. I met my friend Joseph Pannetta at the newly renovated SunWorld Dynasty Hotel. I was so glad to see him. He looks good, lost some weight but it works for him, and is happy, that’s because he’s in love. Anyway he met me at reception and we went upstairs to put my bags down. Afterward we headed to the Oriental Mall on Wangfujing. This mall has every kind of highend shop you can imagine. Joseph was happy because he gets paid in the pound and the last I check 1 pound is worth 14 Yuan. So he can definitely afford to shop and make out like a bandit. After shopping, window shopping for me, I’m on a budget we went to go eat. Joseph, works for Omega, which is the official time keeper for the Olympics. So as partner Omega has arranged for their staff to eat at select locations and bill it back to the company. Now, Joseph just like every other Omega employee is credentialed down — no mistaking that he’s with Omega. It took five restaurant staffers and 15 minutes to finds Joseph’s name on the list of Omega employees. The funny thing is it was on the very first page, ten names down. Go figure.
After lunch, we went to get a foot massage, which is only second to the scrub down. You have to get a food massage, and you know I don’t like showing let alone allowing people to touch my not-so-cute feet, but HONEY, let me tell you. It was so good to my little piggies. Bernadette went with us, she she was having a day and she fell asleep and was snoring. The whole thing takes about 45minutes. First they put your feet in this scalding hot water with a gel like substance to soften your feet. Then they massage your back and arms, hands and legs. Afterward they scrape all the dead skin off your soles. My feet felt like newborn skin. Nothing like any pedicure I ever had.
Later, we just hung out and basked in our walking on air feeling. Life was good. Oh, who is Bernadette? She works for Omega US, we became friends when I was at Swatch. So it was really good seeing her, and it only took a trip across the world to see her.
The next day, I decided to walk around and get the lay of the land. Nothing special, I just walked to the outter gate of the Forbidden City, then to the Square down the Quiamen tower and then I took the subway to the travel agent and another to the Beijing Railway station. I had to book my travel from Beijing to Shanghai and from Shanghai to Hong Kong and I became very frustrated with the whole or deal, so much so, I was ready to say to hell with it all and go back to Seoul. That was until, I met up with Joseph at one of the Omega hospitality suites, where Joseph introduced me to Swiss born, but now lives in Shanghai, Pierre. Pierre told me of two travel sites that would help me plan the third legs of my trip — elong and ctrips. If you’re ever in China and you need to travel within or abroad, I recommend these sites they’re good and CHEAP. I spent $108 on a plane tix from Bejing to Shanghai. So really not bad. Anyway, after that little tid bit I was feeling much better mentally, although my stomach was a little funky.
The next day, arranged for my tour of the Forbidden City, and it’s quite amazing. It’s undergoing a renovation, which I felt is taking away from it’s old world charm, but I guess it’s necessary to ensure that it withstands the elements. I was typical tourist, with a tour group — camera entow. The group was small, which was good for me. There was this one man, 85 years old from Puerto Rico, who had traveled to China, alone for the Olympics. He was a nice man, but he talked a lot and made silly jokes, that no one understood, except me because he was speaking Spanglish. So I had to force myself to laugh so he wouldn’t feel bad. After a while I just pretended like I didn’t hear him. The tour began at 8Am and ended at 5PM. I can safely say, I’ve toured Beijing. I have pictures that I’ll upload later because the intenet in China is janky, to say the least.
The next day, I infiltrated the Omega delegation and went with then to the Great Wall of China. And great it is! It spans for as far as the house can see. There are two ways you can go up to the Wall, you can walk ( I had my fill of climbing mountains) or cable car, which is a ski lift up the mountain. Now, I’m afraid of heights, so I wasn’t happy about sitting on this chair that is being supported only by thin little cable. I was sitting next to Bernadette who wanted to turn around and see what was behind us. I was freaking out on the inside but I didn’t tell B until we arrived on solid ground. It does force you to wonder just how this wall was built. It is so precise and well made I need to know who took the time to build such a thing. I guess this is why it’s call the GREAT Wall and is considered a wonder of the world. And the wall is long, it goes on, and on, and on, and on… We walked up the left and then up the right. Since I knew I wasn’t going to walk the entire wall I was satisfied with what I saw. I took a lot of pictures, which, I accidentally erased and video of my trip to the wall. I didn’t have any existential or devine experiences like when I went to the temple but I was in awe of the Wall.
After the wall we went back to the hotel to change and get something to eat. Since Joseph had gone to the wall earlier, I went without him and he went to the rowing competition. When I got back to the hotel, I learned that I had a ticket to the USA/Angola basketball game. So I made it to an Olympic Game. I was so excited. The game was good, the US won with a thirty point lead. In addition to seeing Kobe and D Wade, Cindy Crawford and her family were sitting right next to me. Who knew?
The rest of my time in Beijing, was spent tooling around and picking up a souvenier for Aunt Jan.
I left for Shanghai this morning on Haiman Air, nice airline, although the security agent took my hand sanitizer and bug repellent. I wasn’t trying to check my bags, oh well c’est la vie. I have wet ones, and I’ll wear long sleeves.
My hotel in Shanghai is called the Astor House Hotel a converted mansion. It’s old world but I like it, although the interior is kind of like the hotel in the Shining, I’m not spooked though. Today, I guess I’ll tool around, get my barings and something to eat. I already found that Shanghai is easier to navigate and communicate, than Beijing, for which I’m truly grateful.
Keep your comments coming and I’ll try to post any time I can. The next post should be all about my travels in Shanghai.
For now Beijing Baby D is now Shanghai Sugar D.
Stay tuned and I’ll post to you later.
Thanks to Jenny for being my proxy, until I can post on my own.