Friday, 31 December 2010

It’s Peking Duck Season... (Dec 13, 2010)

I fell in love with Shanghai but a few hours ago we stood in the middle of Tianamen Square and something in me stirred. We felt a bit overwhelmed by the symbolism and history, marvelled at the scale and admired the imposing double vista of Mao’s Mausoleum at one end and the Forbidden City at the other. It was bitterly cold - minus 2 degrees Celsius - but the sun was out lighting up a beautiful crisp winter’s day. Our first full day in Beijing.

The first thing about Beijing is that it is vast. We switched hotels this morning to avoid the 30 minute taxi commute into the town centre. Even though we can see the Forbidden City from our hotel window (yes, it’s that kind of a hotel) it’s still a 2km walk to its entrance.

We felt contrary and had Japanese for lunch (and Brazilian Barbecue the night before last – let me ask you: do you eat Western food at every meal?)

On the fanbase front, they seem to appreciate me just as much here as they did in Shanghai. And this appreciation is by no means limited to the local population. As it happens, Croatia's Miroslav Blazevic, the newly appointed coach of China’s National Football Team was on our plane from Shanghai (and before you get the wrong idea, he was travelling economy – or ordinary class as they call it here – just like us.) A very dashing and well preserved 72 year old (he looked 50) he seemed rather taken by me as we waited for our luggage around the carrousel. It must have been my faux-fur coat and Paul Smith glasses that did it because I’m sporting the brightest red nose this side of Rudolf, courtesy of my first Chinese cold. But there you have it.

Tomorrow, we are having a private tour of the Forbidden City and The Great Wall. We couldn’t be more excited if we were being flown to the moon.

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