Monday, October 17, 2011

Postcard from China 1

As I write I am homeward bound having just finished a short study tour in China as part of an “Australian Water Culture Delegation” organised by the Australia China Centre on Water Resources Research (ACCWRR).  In this series of Postcards I reflect on various experiences and thoughts during the 9-day trip.  

(i)                Back in Beijing for the second time.  It was the end of the National Holiday week and Tiananmen Square was well decorated with many local tourists on hand.  The amount of smog was my first impression – worse then in an earlier visit in May-June.  The air quality, as I outline below, was a recurring theme.  As a group of seven we became amiable fellow delegates.
(ii)              Apparently Mao’s portrait is renewed every holiday – if so we saw the fresh one!!

(iii)           The imperial Palace was as impressive as my first visit. The crowds interfered with the stronger virtual images I continue to hold of previous emperors and their courts gained from various movies. I expect it to be my last visit to the palace. 
 (iv)          As with last time a visit to the Lindang Hutung was a highlight. A short guided tour this time made it all the more interesting. It seems tragic to me that so much of the old has been lost from around central Beijing.
 (v)             An evening walk to the Birdsnest stadium and parts of the Olympic village reacquainted me with the creativity of the architecture.  The striking lighting of the key buildings created an eerie effect in the smog.  I sensed the complex was underused and undergoing further (re)development. Someone later told me it was.  The main activity was a rock band launch of the new Audi car!!  A celebration of consumerism! 
(vi)            Free hotel internet (all week) is a great boon.  Although I was unable to load this Blog all week though – no problems with the BBC or ABC.
 (vii)         A smoggy drive to the Great Wall on Sunday morning. My first visit. Now I have seen it and walked on it.  I pity the builders and soldiers who have manned it over the centuries.  I did not walk far – on the steep climb part I opted for caution, not wanting to expose my lungs to dragging in lots of smoggy air! As with most of our visit there were large numbers of local tourists – more than outsiders.

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