Friday, 14 November 2008

footsore and fancyfree

This is our last night in Beijing. We spent it at the Chinese Theatre watching some very inscrutable goings-on, interspersed with wild acrobatics and spectacular high jinks. It was great fun, although I kept dozing off during the quiet bits only to be woken judderingly by falsetto shrieks, and flame-throwing.
I'd spent the whole afternoon walking round the Olympic site, I who have had no interest in sport since David Beckham left England, and little before that. It was magnificent.

I'm afraid I can only come up with superlatives to describe this city. It has blown me away, and that is just the fabric of the place. The people are something else. If the Russians were unexpectedly friendly, and the Mongolians friendlier, the Chinese have been friendliest. And that still surprises me. Where is the fabled inscrutability? Where is the dour dress, and drab uniformity? This place sparkles.

Although I've had the Internet in my room at the Bamboo Garden I've hardly been at home to use it, wandering as I have. Perhaps things will quieten down in the provinces. We leave tomorrow on the night train to Xi'an, which is south-west of here.

ps for Erin and Sam: I can't get into my email tonight - another gremlin perhaps, so here's a public message. I wish you both well on your journey, and will follow your blog attentively. Thanks very much for your comments on mine. If you are still in Beijing and looking for English books, go to Wangfujing Dajie just a couple of big blocks east of the Forbidden City. There are two huge bookshops there, and one is called Foreign Books Store just down from Dong'anmen Night Market (which is worth a visit anyway, even if your stomach heaves at the sight of what they sell there). The other is huger, and magnificent, and further south on the East side of the street. Happy reading and bon voyage!