Still thinking about China

Do you think I’ll make something of myself? I asked the adults at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. “Not for all the tea in China,” they said. I wondered how much tea I was up against.

I remember digging pits in the sand.  “What are you doing?” the adults said.  “Trying to dig to China?”

I wanted to visit China, see the wall, the Forbidden City, see if I could sell some books at the Beijing Book Fair.  Off to China. The publishers smart and funny.  The Chinese very friendly and warm.  The book fair was lovely.

Then the Wall.  Which did not keep anybody out.  There is even a Traitor’s Gate where the traitor opened the door to the barbarians.  Hadrian’s Wall didn’t keep out the Scotts and the Great Wall didn’t keep out the invaders from the north.  Barbarians will batter down the gates, you can count on it.  What they say about the wall.  “It wasn’t a complete failure.  It did keep the Mexicans out of China.”

The climb to the wall at Mutinanyu took about thirty minutes.  The stairs going straight up.  Then we walked to where the wall was blocked off, the last part of the climb was staggering, a fierce 45 degree angle climb forever. Two of our party didn’t make it.  I’m pleased to say that I successfully made the climb.  By the end of the day, I couldn’t even eat dinner.  I would have liked a hot tub.  My legs felt like jellyfish.  The wall is a monument to human arrogance, but still a thread of beauty through the trees.

Then the Forbidden City, vast and crouching in the middle of Beijing.  You don’t  get a sense of what it was like to live there because it’s so massive.  The garden with hits huge piles of rock between the trees, the elaborate ceilings.  A fantastical palace for a series of emperors ending with one strange child who never got a chance to rule, but practiced cruelty on the eunuchs who served him, flogging them, making them eat dirt.

The wrapped duck, the fiery fish, the food was amazing.  China was worth digging for.  Next time I’m on a beach, I’ll make a castle.  Not like the Forbidden City, where one unhappy cruel child lived.  My castle will be for everyone.

China is fascinating.  Is it the most powerful country in the world?  Not yet.




Published in: on September 17, 2018 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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