Friday, March 31, 2006

So, my parents turned up with P+M, on time and in the correct hotel with only a little fuss from taxi drivers getting lost on the way. It's lovely to see them after five months though somehow because of msn and skype it doesn't seem like nearly that long. Internet communications have clearly revolutionised how we can view distance and contactability. I guess it wouldn't have been that many years ago that someone living in Beijing would only have post as a means of communication with the outside world.

It's interesting to see Beijing, through my parents with a new if somewhat jet-lagged set of eyes. So many of the things that I take for granted now leave them surprised, confused, impressed and it takes me a while to shift perspective to realise why such things may appear odd. A small meal in a dumpling house for lunch was greeted with oohs and aahs at the quality, quantity and of course price of the food. To me now, this is a little snack of moderate taste at a regular price but of course to someone who just spent twice as much on a latte from Starbucks as a meal for five is going to be pretty impressed.

After a wonder round the hutongs in what is now a rather temperate atmosphere we headed to the drum and bell tower, neither of which I've been to but both of which are worth a visit to have a decent view of the city as well as to see the largest bell in China (almost 20 ft tall). (Click the picture to see the site I'm linking from)

In the drum tower you get a drum show every half an hour of some enormous drums (from

Worth a visit if you're in the area, very cheap to get into. Don't bother with the guided tour, everything is very well explained and people are happy to chat if you have questions.

After a visit to my flat for my parents to inspect that I wasn't living in either a pigsty or some sort of seraglio, they left reasonable assured. We headed back to teir hotel, via my department, and had a superb head massage leaving us all feeling invigorated and ready to face the rest of the day (which for those with jet-lag was no small task). I have photos of my parents just after said massage but they both look a little dishevelled so shall ask permission before I post the picture.

My mother learnt Chinese 30 years ago. The confidence may have wained a little but the vocab is fast coming back and soon she will have overtaken me. It's great to be with mostly non-Chinese people again as it means I get to practice much more than when I'm with my colleagues. Somewhat ironic but true. I've been having what can be classed as genuine, if slightly muddled conversations now and such pressure is surely necessary for my improvement which is currently only happening theoretically and not practically. I look forward to some more improvement over the next couple of weeks.

A fine dinner at a Mongolian hotpot restaurant finished off the day and the weary travellers as I said my goodbyes after a mammoth day for the newest Beijing intakes.

Everyday when I come home from the office I'm greeted by a group of inline skaters practicing and practicing and practicing, come cold, wind, sand and whatever else Beijing may have to hurl at them. They're really good and spend their time coming up with ingenious ways to hurtle through a slalom with maximum difficulty. Today I asked them if I could watch for a while and take some photos. They seemed only too happy to oblige and these were some of the results. (I may have to clean my camera lense!)

The building in the background is the icebox which is my apartment.

An early start tomorrow so I shall hit the sack with a new pile of books bought from England to keep me going for the next few days. Will review when I've read the Kazantzakis, Proust, Marquez, Steinbeck (again, I know, sorry) and a book on modern art called The Shock of the New, which I've been looking forward to reading for many months.

Fittingly I sign off with 'Supergrass - Time To Go' fading into the background. Adios.

1 comment:

Wrapped up in books said...

'The Shock of the New' is a great book - I heartily recommend it! :)