Beijing fascinates me. Choosing my journey anywhere between the ultra-ancient and the ultra-modern remains incredibly seductive to me. The icing on the cake are the good company and sumptuous meals with friends and acquaintances every time I return.
This is the third trip to Beijing after we moved away from the capital city in June 2012.
The overnight flight from Singapore is on time; with the airport express and the subway I neatly beat rush hour traffic. By 09:00 I’m checked-in and ready to roam and ramble. Let the day one ritual begin: I wander through Central Park, Ritan Park, The Place and other familiar spots and concomitantly “mind-surf” about (mostly) good old memories and check out what has changed since last time and what remains. Restaurants and other shops come and go, a few perennial favourites (such as Annie’s…….) remain, last but not least the hairdresser in Dongdajialu, whom I used to visit frequently, still goes strong.
Comparatively heavy snowfall sets in after lunch. Snow on ancient structures, but which one to visit? Tripod, Nikon Df, ND filter and the GoPro, which has become one of my favourite travel cameras recently, packed and I’m wrapped up in Goretex, I ponder where to go: Tiananmen, Beihei, Ritan Park – nope, I take the subway towards Guangjisi, a small temple housing the headquarters of China’s Buddhist society. It’s relative petiteness, the quiet atmosphere, the paraphernalia shop and probably as a truly unique feature, no need to buy a ticket. Likely the only notable temple in China you can enter without purchasing a ticket (just to mention in case the Lonely Planet web crawler finds this site…).
The next morning brings yukee air and an urgent matter from Singapore to attended to, so I transform instantly into a Gen(Y) migrant IT-savvy, roaming worker: I waddle to a Western Coffee Shop, order the mother of all Megatallgigaventilattes, pull an Apple Laptop, notabene a 2009 Macbook Air 13″, which to this date works perfectly well, out of my bag and settle in. This antiquated machine immediately outs me as an outdated GenY-model. The Costas and Shinbakes appear to be flourishing even more than before, maybe Xidada’s disruptive anti-corruption policy drives people form the Abalone cum Ch. Petrus snacks into the Coffee Shops for meetings? One looses, the other one gains.
Day three – what a miracle: cold winds from the North drove all the pollution out of town, I join Beijing hikers (www.beijinghikers.com) for a hike on the Wall. A perfect day: blue skies, panoramic views, the wall covered with a bit of snow, which accentuates the “dragon’s” back making it more visible on its journey over the mountains bordering Hebei and Beijing. A small group of hikers and two funny and competent guides, plenty of photo stops, conversations and laughter.
I stand in awe on the wall, cannot stop gazing around and soaking it in. In the to-be-published Asterix in China, Obelix will certainly say: “delirant, isti Cinesi”.