In Beijing, the City of the Itchy Throat.
I'm in Beijing for a week or so, blogging via email
because the PRC government thinks that the Bastard of
Art and Commerce is seditious or something. Blogger is
a url non grata, and just like parts of BBC.com and
Wikipedia. So, nyah.
My mo on these trips is to hate a city the night I
arrive, then poke around the next day and decide it's
actually pretty great. The bureaucracy of arrival and
inevitable 1 hour ride on a strange highway to a site
unseen always gets me down, as does checking in to
hotels. The first nights' dinner is also trying, as
it's usually involves some jocularity on the part of
the in-country production company's rep, taking the
group to a 'special' restuarant that only locals go
to, usual to eat some form of horse penis. Or bull's
penis in this case of this past evening. Szechuan hot
pot. Didn't eat the bull dong, looked vaguely like
calamari. Being up 24 hours straight (can't sleep on
planes) makes me less adventurous, vis a vis organ
meats. The rest of the food was delicious, however.
The next day the smell gets to me. Not true in all
cities, of course. But in Beijing it is. It's this
weird combo of saffron and diesel that's everywhere.
It's not even a bad smell, necessarily. It's just so
<i>there</a>, everywhere, like the cooking of the city
gets trapped in the smog. The physiological result of
this shroud is a niggling itchy throat.
But Beijing is an impressive city, full of little
quiet lanes and very wide bike lanes. I took me fat
ass out for bike ride with some colleagues to see the
Forbidden City and Mao's tomb. It was a lot of fun,
and people are friendly. Lots of little kids
practicing their English for their future dominating
the globe. It doesn't seem like a tired city, it's all
go-go for the Olympics. The construction is 24 hours,
7 days a week, and they're expanding the subway lines
from two to seven in just a few years' time. Crazy.
Mao's tomb was fascinating. It's a like funeral that's
been going on for forty years. Thousands of people
cycle through every day, and it's odd to be in a quick
moving line (seriously, if your shoes are untied
that's how they're going to stay for the duration as I
found out. I also experienced the high tolerance the
Chinese adult male has for having his hand pressed to
the fleshy backside of a corpulent American male for
twenty minute intervals) that's dead silent. In the
Masouleum itself you enter a huge room where a giant
white marble statue of Mao smiles at you from a big
comfy chair done up in Chinoise upholstery. And if you
are a superfan, you can purchase a yellow rose outside
(wasn't aware Mao was a Texan) to lay at his feet.
You're in the this antechamber for all of 7 minutes,
then you enter Da Show, Mao's carcass draped in a
hammer and sickle flag in a glass coffin, waiting for
his prince to come. There's a soft spot light on Mao's
head, which for the life of me looks like it's been
carved out of butter. The China Dairy Council must
have paid some boucoup buckage for that product
You're in there for maybe four minutes, just long
enought to notice that the trademark Mao mole just
isn't there. Then you are shot out directly into the
gift shop, just like Epcot.
Stopped at this huge tourist clothes store, where you
can buy weird knockoff crap (the Burberry tuff was
labeled "Brrrbry". Need a vowel there fucktard.) It's
this crazy five story haggle store with these little
booths. One of the shop girl kept asking me "Why not
get a t-shirt, Happy Buddha?"
Perhaps it was her comment that prompted me to get a
bathing suit and go swimming at the hotel. It's this
sassy little lyrca number that says "Swimming!!" on
the side. Think I might forget this one in the room
The hotel, the Peninsula, is really posh and all that,
with some kind of douchebag shopping arcade at the
bottom filled with douchey luxury brands. Oh, and a
hooker bar. Want to find the hookers in any given
city? Travel on business.
Tomorrow we go to the Wall, to shoot some footage for
a commercial. That should be amazing. More later...
Rediscover idiocy. Bastard of Art and Commerce.