It’s been two weeks since my last post here; I think I can safely say that this is by far the longest I’ve gone without a single post. I’ve had an incredibly small amount of time over the last few weeks to write, between working, completely moving into a new apartment, and flying to Beijing to meet Nemo and see the tourist sites with him, staying in a hostel near Tiananmen Square.
After weeks of searching for a new apartment (I had problems with the previous one; not only was it a bit too small, but parts of the apartment were continually falling apart, like the shower and parts of the plumbing). Additionally, I was interested in finding a place that would be better for summertime, and part of the criteria was that it would include a balcony large enough for a small group of people. Needless to say, I found everything that I was looking for, and even exceeded my own expectations for what it was possible to find. My rent has jumped up a significant amount, but that’s no surprise and doesn’t put much of a damper on the relief I feel for finding what I’ve been looking for for so long. I’ll post some photos of the place when I return to Chengdu; in the meantime, ADSL internet is being installed there today under the guidance of a friend while I’m out of town.
I arrived in Beijing five days ago and picked up Nemo at Beijing International Airport. We took a taxi to a hostel near Tiananmen Square and spent a few days seeing local sights like the Forbidden Palace (home to generations of Beijing emperors), Heavens Park (I don’t know how to properly translate some of this..), Summer Palace, Chinese National Museum, The Ghost Market, and a handful of other locations. It’s been a pretty good time, but all of the attractions aside, I can’t say that I care too much for Beijing. Most of it is very dirty, old, and generally unsightly. Areas which have been renovated are gaudy and covered in too much neon to be even half as presentable as cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. That’s okay though, because like Washington DC, this is just a historical tourist attraction for most foreigners. Staying in a hostel has been pretty lame, though. I miss my house.
Yesterday we spent the entire day trekking on the Great Wall, starting off at Jingshanling and ending at Simatai. The hike was pretty difficult, as the first four hours or so were along portions of the wall which hadn’t been restored; these were the best parts of the hike, but included a lot of climbing. Nemo could barely take it and kept saying that he couldn’t go any farther. It reminded me of the first time that I’d been challenged to a point where I thought I couldn’t continue, at Outward Bound on Hurricane Island in Maine, when I was 17. Nemo made it to the end at Simatai where we took a three-hour bus back to Beijing. I got many beautiful photographs which I’ll post here when I get a chance to edit them. After reaching the top of Simatai I took a train-like vehicle down a portion of the mountain which took me to a cable car which I took for 18 minutes further down the mountain to the foot of Simatai where there were restaurants and connections to roads. Overall the trip was fantastic and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The sights along the wall were truly exceptional as I had hoped they’d be. My greatest hope that this point is that the photos I took reflect that half as well as my memory does.
In a few moments I’ll call the travel agency and book flights to Beijing for tomorrow afternoon. Next weekend I have a gig in Shanghai with H&G at a Tibetan aid event. I’m looking forward to it, and I know that Tenzin and Kensho are (because they’ve never been to Shanghai), but I don’t think they know that Shortkut is performing on the same night at Pegasus.