Contrary to popular perception—at least my previous perception—Beijing is not a smog-choked city of soul-less gray buildings. I’m sure there are days and streets that would fit that description but today is certainly was not one of them. As on this whole trip the weather continues to be the sunny perfection of late summer/early fall in temperate climates. The occasional chill and rain has intruded but ever so seldom. In fact the weather has been so perfect I’ve almost stopped wishing for more rain.
Today was a tourist-day. Out of town to the Great Wall and then to the Ming Emperor’s Tomb. The latter was mildly interesting, the kind of place that could be fascinating if one were well-versed in Chinese history. The Wall on the other hand is absolutely grandly historically scenically spectacular. There are eight ‘things/measures’; I managed two and one-half. It’s the kind of place that makes me want to challenge myself by exercising like crazy and then coming back to walk the entire way. It is probably the best ‘big important’ feature on the trip.
I still cannot attach photos to post on the blog without Google’s help so I won’t continue describing Mongolia or even the train ride here until I can make that happen. Maybe Seoul and the last 24 hours of the trip. I’m using Google Mongolia to post at all and also to check out Huff Post which has been my only news source lately when I have even that. Somebody told me to try Google Hong Kong so that’s next on this evening’s agenda.
So here are some tidbits from the day that don’t really call for photos. Cindy, my travel guide here, is pleasant and fairly talkative, with the interesting opinions and life experiences of a modestly successful Chinese woman in her 40s. She said the Chinese people in general are skeptical of Barack Obama—but they like Putin because he’s a tough guy. Right now they’re just disappointed that Obama didn’t show up for their giant military celebration last week; ‘He should have been here,’ Cindy says, ‘we think it’s an insult that he didn’t come.’ Since all the other big kids were here it does sort of seem like he should have shown up. Cindy said ‘well maybe he couldn’t because of criticism from the public if he did.’ Which of course makes me keep wishing Obama gave less of a damn what people thought. I did mention that we’re not so big on military parades in the U.S.
Cindy’s husband is stationed in Johannesburg where he works for a Chinese-owned coal company mining in South Africa. When I said I had hoped that the U.S. would get more involved on the African continent when Obama was elected, she quickly responded, ‘No, you don’t need to, you have all the natural resources you need and not such a big population. We must go further to find what we need because we have so many people.’ She did express some sadness because she has only one son and would have liked more children but, she says, now that it’s okay to have a bigger family she is too old.
People here like the new president, especially that he is from the country himself so he knows the lives of the farmers and poorer people. This last week hasn’t been good for anyone in China though with the stock market in free fall/the bubble burst. Cindy checked in occasionally today, having lost a fair chunk of money when the bottom fell out last week. She was quite worried because there didn’t seem to be much of a bounce-back yet.
Another photo-less day unfortunately. You will all love the albums when they start coming in though. Especially the animals and gers of Mongolia.
Five days and I’ll be home. I’m ready. Although a little sad at the same time because who knows if there’s another grand adventure like this in my dwindling future!