strom October 8th, 2007
[Mudworm’s notes: Strom wrote this part when he was in Beijing and never got time to finish it. Now he is back to his busy work, it becomes less likely he will have time to continue writing it. I decide to go ahead and publish it so that his effort would not go wasted.]
Well the first thing that I noticed leaving the airport is that people yell more here than other places that I have been. Here is a list of a few other items that struck me. The groves of trees along side the road grow on grids. Traffic is one notch higher than you can imagine. We drove by where they are putting in a new freeway. Not such a big deal but that fact that there was not a single piece of heavy equipment around did. This was a location where two freeways came together so There were 50 to 100 feet up. also the scaffolding seemed to be made out of old pipes and bamboo.
Labor has to be cheap here. Saw a man with a three wheeled bike transporting at least 15 5 gallon jugs full of water. He was 40 or so, his bike from a time gone past, the chain hung down and was close to dragging on the ground. Two guys where putting in a hand rail, hack saws and a file. Traffic was unbelievable for miles on end.
Went to a well known tea house and watched a show and drank tea. The taxi dropped us around the corner stating he did not know where it was. Thankfully Mei speaks Mandarin and with a bit of persistence we found it. After the show we rented a three wheeled electric motorcycle cab. He was going to give us a special tour to show old town China. Just before heading down some dark deserted alley Mei gave him a stern somethin, somethin and we spun around and headed toward the hotel. He did not seem real happy when he dropped us off and Mei paid. We went to the Night Market and picked up some meat on a stick. Whoo hooo. On the way to the Tea house, I notice some gal on a bike got tagged by a car. Her elbow looked damaged. The guy that hurt her had stopped but seemed somewhat disinterested and no one else stopped they just stayed on the horn till they got by. Other bicyclist just looked at the situation as an opportunity to get quickly across the intersection.
Wicked tired finally got back to the hotel. Slept till 3:30 then neither of us could go back to sleep. Hit the breakfast buffet bright and early. This was really good. First thing I noticed getting off the elevator was the smell of bacon at that time I thought of America. Hmm, is that good or bad? I do not know. Second was that all the plants in the lobby are real, even the large ones.
The coffee was perfect for me which meant that the likes of Gilbert and Lane would have hated it. I also notice that hardly anyone one else was drinking it. Other things of notice. Most all the older guys eat with their mouth open. Their was one Chinese guy using a fork. Of those that used chopsticks some used finesse and some used the head down plate up and shovel technique.
Headed out the the Forbidden City. 7 taxi’s sat across the street none wanted to give us a ride. So we started to walk only had to go about a half block before Mei hailed one down. We ended up at Tienanmen Square where we met Chis, a gal from Kansas, she was also headed there and decided to hang with us for the day. Well to take a step back for a moment when we were dropped off Mei went into a shop to check on bus tickets to the Great Wall. Some guy kept yelling some into the store. There was a security guard, cop, army (whatever) right beside him. The cop looked to be about 18, skinny, really looked like kid. This guy older and bigger kept yelling finally as the cop walked by him the guy yelled from about 18″ from his ear. I noticed the cop’s face drop a bit, he took two steps. turned, took one step toward the guy put out his hand and laid it on his shoulder. The loud mouth shut up and took a couple of steps back.