Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confucius Says: Today Held a Gong, a Brit, a Lama and a Departure.

Ok, so the last few entries I've stated somewhere in the first couple sentences that it is going to be a brief article, and inevitably it isn't. This one will be.

Today we got to sleep in (til the gloriously late hour of 9 am) and the three of us grabbed a small breakfast. The Raffles does a really good job of just about everything and as a result, their breakfasts are amazing. The Chinese do a mean croissant. At any rate we did that, showered and helped Edward pack all his stuff into his bags. They are literally in danger of just exploding at any moment. There is so much pressure in the duffel bag that when it goes off, he might create a miniature universe with the force of the blast. Either that or all his boots and cashmere gifts will be scattered across the tarmac at Shanghai International. Really hoping it's the former because at least then he can feel proud of his work as opposed to feeling shitty about the vehicles driving over his stuff.

Dad headed off to Prince Gong's Palace while Ed and I caught the world's third longest cab ride (as measured by time spent not moving rather than physical distance) to the British Consulate. There we met Grahame (a guy from the train) who is England's 1st Secretary of Education and English in China. This means he's a diplomat even though he was a mere University professor a year ago. He is very funny and entertaining and the three of us had a good time eating at a local place. He was disappointed he didn't get to meet Dad but settled on talking to the two of us for awhile.

Dad, Edward and I reconvened at the Hotel in the early afternoon and set off to the Lama Temple to take in the sight of (among other things) an 80' tall, 10' wide statue of Buddha carved from a single Sandlewood tree. Very impressive. The video attempts to capture it, and fails. Points for effort though, right?

It was after finishing the Lama Temple that a very sad thing happened, Edward got in a cab and headed for the airport. This marks the end of his and my 31 day adventure together. must go on and so too must touring.

Dad and I hit up the Confucius Temple (not nearly as cool as the Lama) and then walked to a park. Park...not so interesting on account of everything worth seeing being closed. So we cabbed it to this very pretty area around a lake near the Forbidden City, grabbed coffee at the world's most perfectly positioned Starbucks and toured about another pagoda. We watched the sunset form on top of this tall island in the middle of the lake. Beautiful beautiful scenery. And, as we all know, a natural sunset isn't nearly as pretty as a sunset working it's way through pollution, therefore the sunsets here are amazing. See, there's a silver lining to the dark, oppressive cloud that is the Beijing air.

Dinner consisted of a great meal at the Crystal Jade Palace (where they do this playful little dish consisting of fried chicken - a la Peking duck - goose liver and mango, all held together in a small cup of lettuce and eaten like a taco). I'm beginning to really dig how they do things in this country, minus the fact that no one except hotel staff seem to speak English, which is fine until you actually need something...

And this is how we ended up here, on the brink of sleep, with only a few words to say on the day.

From Beijing: Good night.

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