Rapid-fire cultural interchange... well not really...
10.16.2007 - 10.19.2007
Our last days in Beijing were a smorgasbord of family activities, drinking in some of the culture of Beijing and introducing some of our own culture to Beijing. We did so much over the last few days, it’s just too much to cover in any detail, so here’s the run through; Shopping at Panjiyuan Market, (a bizarre for local arts and crafts), shopping the Silk Market, (a multi story venue for great bargains on commercial goods), seeing the flags raised at Dawn over Tiananmen Square, (was really fun getting the kids up for this), enjoying Peking Duck dinner, seeing a humorous (and ear piercing) performance of the Beijing Opera, Bicycling around Beijing, and doing a fair amount of skating. We also got to visit Rebecca’s, home and meet her mom, which was great unexpected treat. The past 9 days gave us a relatively balanced view of Beijing for a nine day visit.
The Skating Spectacle
We were told by our guide that the “catherdral” is where we should skate, so we visited the catherdral and skated it up a couple of days. A nice spot for both wedding photos and skating it seems – and the two can coexist. It was quite funny to see the boys be embraced by the Beijingers as “stars” of the skate world. They don’t see many western skaters, and so cameras would come out and folks would take pictures with the boys and some even handed baby’s over to the boys to get their picture taken. The boys got a bit tired of this, just wanting to skate.
We marveled throughout Beijing how taxis, cars, buses, pedestrians, and the millions of cyclists peacefully coexist. Our driver, John was so smooth, that is was like watching an old school long boarder slowly carving a wave, while simultaneously maneuvering around heaps of agro short boarders that continuously drop in on him. We couldn’t understand how this all works. We saw pedestrians calmly standing on the double yellow line while buses passed in both directions leaving a scant few inches on both sides. We couldn’t figure it out…. until we cycled. As it turns out, everyone is so harmoniously aware of everyone else, regardless of vehicle type or lack thereof, that it’s less like the long-boarder in a gaggle of thrusters, and it’s much more like multiple schools of fish swimming harmoniously in a congested stream, never bumpinig into each other, but always knowing the other school is there. We had so much fun cycling around, you felt alive and part of it all, and it all finally made sense. We swam through the city with other cyclists, buses, taxis, cars and pedestrians and never felt like prey. I can’t even say that about riding in our little city – where I have nearly been run down by unaware college students. Truly amazing – the streets of Beijing.