Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our hotel

The city

Traffic here is enormously congested and busy. While some of the driving is a little wild by our standards, it all seems to function. The picture shows the main drag in downtown Beijing, six lanes unwatchable direction.

Pretty gnarly

This is one of several ancient trees at the exit to the Forbidden City. They are said to be over a thousand years old. This is one of the better looking ones--

A frequent theme

This fellow turns up quite often in Chinese decor. Under the left paw is a cub.

Imperial soda machines

Off to the Forbidden City

After a meal so scrumptious and great that I wondered if I would ever walk again, we set out to see the Forbidden City. We passed through Tiananmen Square. They had some big meetings there last week, and there was considerable evidence of continued official presence.
Tiananmen Square is a large expanse, much larger than a typical square elsewhere. The buildings around the perimeter are built on a similarly grand scale.
I was very moved to be there. I never dreamed I would see this.

The duck

After we met Zheng's mom, they took us to restaurant that specializes in (and claims to have originated) Peking duck.

We meet Zheng's mom

One of the greatest pleasures of our trip happened first thing Monday morning: we met Zheng's mom. They have recently moved to Beijing from a nearby town. She is a professional seamstress. I am sorry I cannot reproduce her name.

A word before we begin

We are safe and sound in a lovely hotel, very comfortable. Beijing is an enormous city (20 million souls), very vibrant. We move around freely, though there is not much English available. Without Zheng, Ellen's student from last year, we would have a much harder time.
If the blog is less coherent than we would like, it is because I cannot read it back. Blogger is blocked by China, part of the ongoing feud between the government and Google, which owns Blogger. I am posting these updates via a special email address provided for that purpose. We are relying on wi-fi in the hotel lobby.
Naturally, there are other things about traveling here that make it different from staying in Dallas, for instance, the global phone we obtained from Verizon does not work. But the trade is worth it.
It is cold here but no snow at this time.

We have a big week

We have a big week in front of us. Our friend Zheng has arranged two
big outings for us, Monday to the Forbidden City and Tuesday to the
Great Wall. So, more on those events soon.