Beijing, August 2002

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

My first run in China was my first day in China and I was in Beijing. I had arrived the night before and was staying at a hotel for a night before traveling on to Dalian the next day. My most vivid memory of the hotel was that the day of the week was woven into the carpets of the elevators. My first taste of 12 hour jet-lag had me up before sunrise and I put on my shorts and shoes and headed out in the gray twilight. The air was thick and hot and dirty. The humidity was much more oppressive than the pollution and the air had substance and you could really see it. I probably tooled around for 30 or 40 minutes, trying to see as much as I could without getting lost. I didn’t have a map. I saw some chrome-plated, socialist art in traffic island, commissioned by one of the Chinese airlines. I ran past a park and stopped to do pull-ups and dips on the exercise bars. There were lots of old folks out, doing Chinese old-folk exercises, Tai Chi, dancing, banging their hands on trees, slapping their bellies, pulling and swinging and twisting on arcane exercise machines. I got back to the hotel without getting lost, which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be on my first day in China. I guess I must have been thinking, “Thank God I didn’t choose to live in Beijing.”

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