The latest perambulations in and around Beijing
Trip Start Jul 20, 2004
207Trip End Jul 20, 2014
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Lets track back to December, the last time my friend Sue and I went hiking (it has been too cold since then). We headed back to the village we visited during the October holiday and had the lady we stayed with the last time show us the trail to continue our Great Wall hike. We had 2 days and finished our first day hike at about 5pm. We went into the village and knocked on the first house. The woman showed us our room which had a warm kang bed waiting for us
By then, Sue's knees felt like pudding and I sensed a cold developing. So, we headed back to Huairou and then to Beijing.
And that was it; I was out sick for the next week, including the Christmas Holiday. New Year was rather entertaining as a bunch of us from work went out for dinner and drinks. We finished at about 3am; a good time was had by all.
Oh,and I almost forgot to mention my 4 day stay in Macau where I went to run the Macau 1/2 marathon. My time was 1:52h, nothing to rave about. While there, I stayed with CS host Wayne who was the perfect host picking me up from the border (I flew to Zhuhai and crossed the border on foot)and giving me my own luxurious room with a view.
Not much happened in 16 days of 2008. I sent in my volunteer application for the 2008 games and have an interview tomorrow. In preparation for Vietnam (and more hiking adventures to remote areas around the world) I finally got my rabies shot which was prohibitively expensive in the US and cost me a fraction of what I would have paid in the US or NZ
Amidst the 3-4 English language magazines circulating in Beijing, I discovered a new one 'Talk'. It's a rather large magazine but the mags focus seems to be geared more towards the professional clientele with less focus on gossip and entertainment than the other mags. I found the following article and couldn't help but include it in my blog. It reflects well on the rapid change of Beijing and takes a look at how the human side reacts during these turbulent times.
Beijing Contradictions or worldly contradictions?
I think all people are essentially the same, even if they wear red (or no) underwear and eat duck ass.
Contradictions seem to thrive in a place where everyone and everything are under constant renovation or subject to rapid change
In such a state of flux, no one seems particularly concerned about a few nagging contradictions and, indeed, some may even come to rely on the general lack of reason as they promote one agenda or another. Why bother about the veracity of a statement, a version of history, or a view of the world, when it would seem to have no bearing on, and may even hamper, the move to the nicer house or better spouse?
Under the laws of contradiction it follows that: being married doesn't necessarily mean not being single; being an historical landmark isn't necessarily an obstacle to also being a modern high-rise; the presence of air pollution may certainly not be the result of pollution in the air; and being a prestigious university is not at all a hindrance to ensuring an education remarkably at odds with notions of higher learning knocking around since the time of Socrates.
With the sudden appearance of a soaring office tower on an empty lot, the equally sudden disappearance of a favorite corner grocer or watering hole, the unexpected departure of a spouse, the surreal resurfacing of some discredited doctrine, the swift appearance of a commercial clone, one begins to lose the motivation to plan ahead for fear of the next betrayal.
Prepare for the opposite, jettison expectations, reserve judgment and live in the moment all ye who enter. To do otherwise is to invite great anguish. One only gets tripped up if one expects the lot to remain empty, the grocer to remain open, the spouse to stay the course, the doctrine to confirm to the daily reality.
Life experience, which forms the basis for how one interacts with the world, is like so much baggage in an alien culture; what is needed is counter-intuition. Forget everything you know. Accept that precious little is utterly knowable. Keep your head down. Become a beautiful bland thing. Mind your business. Write a blog about your love life and the distracting silly controversies of the day. Embrace cultural relativism, and justify and defend the differences when in fact we're all the same. In this way, we will live happily ever after in our state of blissful ignorance, and the contradictions won't seem so damned contradictory.
We also had another trip to Beijing's favored art space - 798 art space in Dashanzi. This is a place where I can meander for hours, albeit preferring warmer temperatures
My latest cultural adventures included attending my first "Crosstalk" (Xiangsheng) and Pingshu (traditional story telling) performance. I very much enjoyed both even though I understood only about 10%. It's the ambience, the people watching and the performer that draw me to these events. The icing is of course that I am the only foreigner there.
Two more weeks and the madness of Chinese New Year will be in full swing. I am vacillating about what to do and where to go. Most likely I will use the time to explore yet undiscovered places in BJ and around. After all, my time here is coming to an end in May and who knows what will happen then. Staying on or traveling? Traveling first and then staying on somewhere else? Moving to another country? Only time will tell. ;-)