It's Friday evening, my last night in China for a while. Tomorrow morning I have to get up very early and make sure I catch the 6 am shuttle bus to the airport which leaves from just around the corner.
I'm going to miss China. This was an excellent first visit. Sure, there were a couple of down days when I was either ill or got ripped off by some crooked taxi driver or something. And I won't miss the Big Brother feel of the place. But I met a lot of great people and saw some incredible things. I would have liked to have headed into the rural parts of the nation, since that's where the bulk of the population lives. I'll save that for the next trip.
I met up one last time for lunch with some people I worked with here. We had Peking Duck -- crispy on the outside, fatty and juicy on the inside. Yum!
I fear I've been a bad tourist in Beijing. There's a lot of the city I haven't seen because I've been trying to write or set up stuff for India. So this afternoon I made my way to the Temple of Heaven. Once I got there I realized why I probably haven't missed much by not going to all the sights. Parts of the Temple were closed for renovations in the leadup to the Olympics. It's becoming a regular nightly news item on TV for tourists to complain that they paid full price for package tours to China, only to find out that they weren't allowed into many of the major attractions. All the more reason to come back again during 2008 when all the work is supposed to be done. I still had a nice time at the Temple, which sits in a huge, lush park. I wandered through the trees for a while to get some shade from the afternoon sun.
I'm doing my laundry as I write this. There are some funny looks from the Chinese staff and guests when I carry my wet laundry down to the next floor where the dryer is. I'm probably the only guest using the complimentary washing machine in the rooms. Everyone else seems to use the hotel laundry service. I'm that cheap.
Definitely getting more psyched about going to India. Part of it is probably the itch to see something new, having been in Beijing for a bit more than a week. I did just check the weather and it's supposed to be a week of thunderstorms in Mumbai, which blows. I'll make the most of it. My next post will be from Mumbai.
Goodbye China, Hello India