Friday, April 25, 2008
As I awoke this morning at 3am not able to fall back to sleep, I had hoped the blogger gods would be on my side. I am here to say that the blogsphere airwaves are open from over here in Beijing. Since New York time and Beijing time are exactly opposite of each other, I am hoping this has the same effect on my life. I can leave that sorrowful pained life of infertility at 6:40pm and be exactly opposite that here in Beijing at 6:40am. So forgive me if my posts may not be focused on baby making, or lack thereof. Now after much tossing and turning, the jet lag has me up and perky at an hour I would be usually dead to the world. The one thing I love about jet lag is that it achieves the impossible - making me a morning person.
So the birds are chirping sweetly as the sun is slowly creeping into our windows. My dear husband is snoring like a moose and I'm sitting listening to the city wake up. We are in a little haven from the sprawling hustle of Beijing, down one of the narrow corner streets in the older parts of town.We are staying at a little boutique hotel that is known for it's swank and kitschy Red Capitalism style. Our room is situated in a small traditional courtyard and adorned with an empress canopy bed with antiques and artifacts from the days of Mao.
And, on that note, boy have things changed here since the days of Mao. Even since the 10 years I was last here, I am stunned by how much Beijing has developed and grown in that time. On my last visit there was a vastness to the city, felt through its open spaces and huge government buildings. Now, my god, it's like everywhere I look a new high rise has been built. You can feel the anticipation for the Olympics as there are signs everywhere indicating its August arrival. The airport is now a mammoth and elegant modern structure that is ready to greet the thousands who will pour in here.
So it's an exciting time to be here. However, amidst this newer shinier Beijing, I do find it funny that I prefer sitting in this musty little room with the slight chill from the open courtyard and the quaintness of the creaky floors. On my last visit I feel like I witnessed the beginnings of rapid modernization here where construction sites were everywhere and there was a momentum of cultural and economic shift.
But I do have to say, as with all development, there are at times I have some nostalgia for the older Beijing, the less-Western-feeling Beijing, when I felt like I was in a place truly unique and alive with history. Back in 1997 there was just a McDonald's and KFC (which I admittedly ate at several times), but I hear now there is a Starbucks in the Forbidden City (just plain wrong) and now you see billboards with Reese Witherspoon selling perfume. It's odd. But these are some of the things that inevitably happen, and have already long happened in other Asian cities. This is by no means the desire to fulfill some need for the exotic, or to stop progress, but I am admittedly having tourist syndrome of wanting to experience something completely different from my home. No doubt this hotel is precisely for people like me, who want some Communist kitsch, so I'm falling right into their hands. But in general, I am not sure why I hold some romantic need for Beijing to stay put. It's probably because I don't want to feel old and that so much time has passed since I've been here.