Category : Portfolio

Goes without saying…

…that lunch was delicious.

This place is open 24 hours a day, and it’s always a madhouse.  It’s worth it, though.  Oh, believe me…it’s worth it.

Beijing restaurants win again!

“The root,” as they say.

The root of home, that is.  The village where my father was born, and lived until he was sixteen years old — at which point, he left for school.  He only returned once, after that.  Right before leaving for the Air Force academy. I’m still getting the details straightened out. My dad didn’t like talking about his early years, and now he’s gone.  It’s like playing catch-up with a ghost.

My wife and I drove to Zhang Gou Zhen Daxichun in Funing County, Jiangsu Province.  It was a spur of the moment trip, on our way to Beijing.  The village was deep in the country.  Many winding roads.  My dad needed to take a boat to leave his village, way back when.

The older people there remembered my dad, partially because he was considered a war hero for the KMT, and partially because he was the first pilot from that county.  We met his — my — relatives.  My dad’s cousin.  I could see the similarities in their faces, and that was eerie.

The world has changed so much over the last seventy years.  In many places, it would be impossible to return to the location of your dad’s birth and find it virtually the same, with a whole town that remembers your dad, or at least, knows of him.  The idea itself would be unimaginable.

But that’s what I found.  For more than five hundred years, my dad’s family lived in that village.  They still live there.  Might be another five hundred years, living there.  Talk about roots.

I’ll have more thoughts about it later.  I’m still digesting the experience.

A study of steps…

It’s the small things. Today when I went to the Forbidden City I received half-off my ticket price.

Senior discount.

I don’t know how I feel about that. I always love a deal, so…good?

***

My daughter says the Forbidden City feels holy to her, and I think there’s something to that. Every time I go there’s a hush – a prevailing heaviness that isn’t dispelled by the huge crowds. You don’t notice the crowds, after a while, because the Forbidden City swallows people up until all you see is stone and sky and red walls.

And the details are incredible. Every little piece of the Forbidden City is a work of art…including the stairs. That always amazes me. Look at this – winged cats, flying horses in the clouds – that sense of flight in the stone. Are you supposed to feel as though you’re flying when you’re climbing those stairs?

And yes, I did include one wall section – and the theme of being in the clouds, among the fantastic and mythic continues.

Well, the Emperor was the ‘Son of Heaven’, after all…so I suppose it fits.

The Great Wall

I love the Great Wall. The remote sections, anyway. Badaling is a joke now (so commercial, so rebuilt that almost nothing of the old wall remains), but the other parts…they still retain most of their original character. Before they built the new highway — that I zoomed along today at full speed — it used to take hours and hours of hard, dangerous driving along a two lane back-road to reach this section of the wall. Which meant that when you’d reach the wall, it was almost empty. No tourists, just local villagers. You could practically park at the base of the wall, and then walk up — without anyone around for miles.

Now? Not so much.

I went to Jin San Ling. Rough translation? Gold Mountaintop. Beautiful weather today, blue skies from here to forever. The wall was packed with people. That’s good if you have an emergency — before, you were basically on your own — but if you want some peace and quiet, forget about it. Or come in the pre-dawn hours. Which, actually, sounds like something I might do next time.