8am, 06 March ’04 – Bus to Great Wall
Whirlwind indeed! Taintan -> Forbidden City -> Tienamen -> Raitan Park -> Yabao Lu -> Pearl Market -> Dinner…
I seem to have an obsession this trip, taking pictures of cleaning people & children.
Can’t think… the woman at the front of the buss, Jessica, is babbling on, filling time & brain cells. Cranes everywhere.
Red balloons. Red flags. Red the blood, the memory, the earth beneath my Carolina boots. Red the neon. Red the lanterns. Red the 2nd cheongsam, the 2nd dress of 3.
8am, 07 March ’04 – Plane Beijin -> Xi’An
Okay, let’s try this again, shall we? So, first and foremost, I climbed the Great Wall yesterday. Harder side. There is a quote in Chinese history that you are not a real man until you’ve climbed the Great Wall.” Brian Harrington, boys & girls, is a real man! Hell, yeah! Top it all off by masturbating at the top, cold wind whipping through the parka as my hands worked frantically, top of the world. Climbed the wall in my “Asthma is sexy” shirt, hell yeah!
So, back to Friday, shall we? The obsession now entitled “Sweeping China” began at Taintan, where people whirled fabric, sing old imperial tunes through blackened teeth and piles of tiles, played Christmas tunes on traditional string instruments in March. Life abounded with old couples dancing to Sanio stereos of the classics, green roofs, peddlers and stares.
3,000 concubines and a city full of eunuchs murmured in the walls, ghosts forced away from their walking halls by a handful of yuan and a concert by the 3 Tenors. The Forbidden City isn’t quite so forbidden anymore, snap by snap denied its history as red flags are raised over golden robes. Commercial commodification everywhere, yet such amazing shoes on the women here – snaps for style all over the city. Gucci me, Prada me… hat has an LV on the back, swap meet or not. Hell, even a Playboy store or 5 in downtown Beijing.
Horrid pollution produces amazing red skies in the morning… no stroms in sight, though, unless you count the cultural ones. We weren’t allowed at Tienamen until after lunch due to the first day of their Congress – red flags billowing in the wind as cops search bags. I split away from the group to snap images, log on and walk around. Masoleum closed, sigh, no waxy communists for me. Eye on me, then off to Raitan Park for a bit of silence and serenity. Yabao Lu for fur drooling and a splash of poverty amongst the Russian population, then Pearl Market for shop ‘til you drop but say Mi Padre has all the money – landing a few good deals.
Back at the hotel, Mi Padre & I hooked up to try to find dinner together with the help of the concierge who eventually figured out what we were asking and pointed us towards a piece of paper with words we could not read, which we handed off to the taxi driver: great idea, BTW… get your locations written in Chinese & point. Saves slaughtering the language says the tone deaf chica.
How can we tell it was a locals place? It was full of smoke & casual dress, excited talk and was next to the girly show. Great food, though – fried sweet potato, spicy mutton with sweet onions, rice paddies with garlic dip – YUM!
Side note: airplane food decent, really do prefer buns & eggs for breakfast. I like medium sized breakfasts, small lunch, largish dinner (early) and tiny snack when possible, I think – don’t like this whole big dinner then to bed thing, though. Also have falle in love again with having an hour or two of serious physical activity in the morning, really got me going last day or two. Maybe I should have Lamb teach me how to ride a bike, but don’t want to seem like I’d be taking anything from him & R.
So, yesterday was Great Wall, making me think about it makes me really happy. In fact, China in general is making me really happy as long as I’m not with Mi Padre all the time. Digging on the LA Engineering boys. Good group, even if my 2 minor crushes won’t be panning into anything… no sex for me in China, save with myself – that is A-OK. Before the wall, we all stopped at a Jade carving factory, where I dropped a wodge of cash on a new necklace for myself.
The wall cuts across the mountains and molehills like a twisting scar across the body of the land, raised so that in the dark its lover can feel the details of her flesh and know it lived; came to him with a history. I feel the stone scar under my fingertips, still covered in chipped black paint, feel the names of thousands who came before, feel her scar and smile. Wind whips through, threatening to blow the hat Natalie made for me off my head… buckle down, keep on climbing.
At the top, peddlers have set up shop… One tenacious artist showed me his work and I gave in -> I enjoy original things… name carved in and all. Self portrait at the top, so many pictures, then hungry fingers find their way as I stand and jerk off at the top of the wall.
After the wall, after the shops here, after the drive back into Beijing, Mi Padre headed off on a rickshaw tour of the old town while I went to Starbucks. Talk about 100% crazy western moment, as after Lotus Lane, I hopped in a cab drinking my steamed mint milk to find the cabby listening to “Welcome to Miami” -> Crazy.
Lotus Lane is next to an entire store for ping pong paddles. My mind whirs over to Chess, to Russia, to Natalie held in my arms… So I take a picture of ping pong paddles and think of her.
Off to the Lama temple, the Confucius temple, the Imperial College… Incense strong in the air, filling my senses with divine devotion as I lower my head, lift my head, give thanks. Thanks for being alive, for being in love, for having my life on my back and the wind whipping in my face, for happiness, for SELF, for inspiration, for beauty, for freedom, for support, for choices, for all.
Yup, the longing to work for National Geographic is back.
I wandered for a while, until looking at the time, I had to meet Mi Padre at the Pearl Market for more shopping, then to dinner with the LA boys at the favored Peking Duck restaurant of Fidel Castro & Yanni. With recommendations like that, how could we say no to the Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restraunt? It was really good… yum… and Haw nectar gets thumbs up too.
Pack. Pack more. Refold space & time. Sleep. Up at 5am to get here in time, almost losing someone from our party along the way. Fly away from Beijing, from Jessica, from that part of the wall. I hope I get to hike the perimeter of Xi’an. I want to pitch the idea of a book, I think, and if someone bites, fly back here to finish it… with Lamb?