I have managed to snag the Yahoo! weather graphic for SMOKE, that most
charming of Beijing forcasts, for you doubters. Here it is:
But wait, it gets worse. (Cue dramatic music.) At least, as far as your immune system is concerned. Besides the general lack of air quality, there are two other things that will not help you stay well. First, people spit everywhere. Yes, everywhere. Like yesterday I was walking up the stairs to my friendly neighborhood McDonald’s (all decked out, oddly enough, for Christmas) and someone just decided to cough up a huge ball of phlegm--“hock a loogie,” in the colloquial, I believe--and then deposit it on the steps. The kicker? I didn’t think twice about this because everyone here does it--boys, girls, men, women, grandpas, grandmas. Everyone. Normally they do it on the street, but apparently nowhere--not even McDonald’s, that bastion of healthy American cuisine--is sacred. Ye gods.
So then, what is the other thing? (I did say two things--go back and read the last paragraph if you don’t believe me.) I’m glad you asked. It is, in fact, known--again, colloquially--as the “Farmer Blow.” If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, here’s how you do it: first, put a finger up against your nostril--either one, it’s up to you; second, press down very hard so that you , in effect, seal off that nostril; three, blow your nose with as much force as possible; and four, enjoy! I would recommend you do this when you are both outside and completely alone, since it is not something that will win you friends or help you influence people. (At least, not in a positive way.) Unless, of course, you are here in Beijing--then feel free to do it as often as you’d like. And if it doesn’t work the first time, go ahead and try it three, four, or even more times! The guy I walked by last week on the way back from the store had no problem with it. I think he tried five times before he was satisfied, although to my untrained eye it seemed like only the first one or two attempts really produced any tangible results.
Anyway, you get the idea. But then again, I seemed to have a stomach thing going on, so maybe it was just something I ate …
Traveling Man. Tonight we are going to Shanghai--the Paris of the East, the Whore of the Orient--for eight days. For the record, I have already decided to go with the “Paris of the East” designation, only because, after coming back from a long day of work, I don’t know how Holly would react to me going on and on about how much I love the “Whore of the Orient.” Just a thought I had.
I am excited, though. If Beijing is Washington DC (seat of government, lots of monuments, and so on), Shanghai is New York, with the culture, the fashion, the art, the nightlife, and everything else. (From what I’ve been told, Hong Kong has no US-based equivalent--apparently it makes New York look like a nice little town, maybe a suburb or something.) The first night (AKA tonight), we are staying in the Peace Hotel, which--back in the glory days of Shanghai in the Twenties and Thirties--was known as the Cathay, and was one of the most famous hotels in the world. It’s an old art deco building and, apparently, has a famous jazz band, some of whom have been playing there since before 1949. (For those of you lacking in Chinese history--most to all of you, I’d guess--that’s the year Mao proclaimed the glorious People’s Republic.) We are hoping to go see them tonight.
The rest of the time, we are staying at the Westin Shanghai, which should be nice for a bunch of non-historic reasons. Mostly the heavenly beds and the rainforest shower heads. And yes, I only put a link in because I expect you all to click on it and be very, very jealous of me. I’m just small and petty that way. Thanks in advance for looking!
Pictures. I’ve finally--there’s that word again--put up some pictures from the Mutianyu Great Wall, if any of you are interested. The Great Wall is very strange. I mean, it’s very cool to go to and is worth seeing, but--when you get down to it--it’s a wall. A really, really long wall. Despite this, you want to take lots of pictures of it (it’s the freaking Great Wall, after all), but when you come home, you realize you have like fifty pictures of--say it with me--a wall. It’s also strange because there’s not really anything to do there. By that, I mean--once you arrive--there’s no where to go, no other sites to see. You get on the Wall, you walk a little ways down in one direction, and then you turn around and walk back to where you came from. That’s it. You can keep walking, but the view never changes: there’s always one more tower ahead of you, a bunch of hills, and the Wall itself stretching off into the distance in both directions for as far as you can see.
Well, the Wall and the nonirrigated farmland sled …
for the stock market