Beijing

by

Friday, 23 September 2011

Up at the usual 5:30. Well, up at the usual 2:30, when I’m still not in the right time zone. Dozed off and on until about the time for the alarm, then got up. As soon as I had finished breakfast, I caught a taxi to the Shanghai airport (*not* Pudong, the major international airport!). Easy check-in, and I spent an hour or two in the lounge doing a bit of work.

Sat next to a very nice young Chinese woman on the plane, used to work at Nokia-Siemens in aggregation networks, now at Siemens doing training development. She said her most unusual cultural experience was visiting Israel.

When we got ready to get off the plane, she saw my luggage, remarked that it was very little for a two-week trip. I explained that I would have about the same amount of luggage for a two-month trip. No point in carrying extra clutter.

Caught the airport express train in Beijing. I have done this before, but not recently enough to be 100% confident. Got off the train at the first stop, walked through a back street or two, risked my neck crossing one of the major streets, and there was the Marriott Northeast, just as expected. I guess I haven’t forgotten everything after all.

They didn’t have a room ready, so I rearranged my luggage, left most of it behind, and went out wandering. Not exactly sure where I wanted to go, but it’s a pretty nice day. Murky air, but temperature in the mid 20s (C). Wandered past the embassies – quite a queue in front of the US embassy – to Liangmaquaio road, but it’s too early to turn right and go to the Paulaner Braeuhaus. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I do have a certain amount of discipline!

Turned left. Noisy, busy street, but it’s beautifully shaded by plane trees, not bad. I thought it was interesting to see corn as a street planting, however.

When the forest cover ran out, I turned south, thinking I might work my way back toward the beer on a side street or two. Through a somewhat difficult construction area, I eventually came upon a new shopping mall. Much of it is still under construction, and the places that are open, mostly restaurants, have few customers. I hope they can keep going until the place goes big time.

It turns out this is just on the shore of the lake in Chaoyang park, where I came and walked on a clear, windy, bitterly cold day in November a year or so ago. So they have a great view.

The moral to take away from this is that this is as upscale, as modern, and probably as expensive, as the highest-class malls you might find anywhere in the world. Let us please have no more talk about poverty or backwardness.

And they have kid’s ceramic art on the walls, or emulations thereof.

Having wandered through the mall to my heart’s content, I left by the other end of the venue and found myself at the south end of Lucky street. This is another place I have been before, a long (*long*) block mostly of restaurants, none of them Chinese. Home from home for the diplomatic and ex-pat community.

Not too authentic, of course. This place purports to be a south German bakery, but in English.

The north end of Lucky street is back at Liangmaquaio road, where it was now late enough to wend my way Bierward. Along the way, the fence blocking off a new apartment development project.

The Braeuhaus had outdoor seating, the beer was good (well, of course!) and I was pretty mellow. Back at the hotel, they offered me an executive room upgrade for Y300 per night extra. They point out that breakfast costs Y260, the upgrade includes no-charge internet access, and as I found later, the executive lounge has enough munchies that I don’t even need to go out to eat.

Pretty classy, pretty spoiled.

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