On January 14, 2007, a new chapter in the People’s Republic of China began. Only time will tell if this era holds more significance than the Ming Dynasty or the regime of Chairman Mao. On this historic date, the Bear that sits prominently on the flag of the People’s Republic was offically justified. Allan Brown (aka BEAR) made his first visit to China.
My visit was official business for Atta Publishing, a small publishing services company based in northern CA. My purpose was to open new doors for Atta, evaluating the needs of Chinese publishers in terms of content acquisition as well as the creation of new advertising/sponsorship opportunities with American marketers. Our business efforts went very well (no need to discuss here; only time will tell if I was successful), but I am intriqued by the culture of a communist country trying to find itself in a free market world. As a visitor, I could appreciate the changes that were being made by modern Chinese men and women. While I saw an overwhelming about of remnants from the Mao regime interms of culture and dress, the vision of the young people who are enjoying learning and assimulating to western life is fascinating. Beijing is a bustling city that is behind other Chinese urban centers (i.e. Shanghai) in terms of modernization, but growing fast. The city is littered with hundreds of crains and construction cities, many directly related to restoring old buildings (Forbidden City) and building new structures for the 2008 Olympics. Traffic jams abound throughout Beijing, which in my mind in New York on steroids.
The geography of Beijing is flat – no hills, only highway overpasses. But 40 minutes north of Beijing sits the Great Wall, nestled in the mountains. The Great Wall is not as imposing as I had thought but it is majestic. Spanning over 3,200 miles, the part of the Wall I visited was steep. Thank goodness it was sunny and dry that day because in cold weather, the Wall can be one long and steep sheet of ice. It was cold and all visitors were bundled up. I wore four layers, with hat, scarf and gloves and I was still cold. People from all over the world visit the Great Wall but I must say it is nothing that you should do once. No need for a return trip to the Great Wall.
I gotta tell you, the food in Beijing is incredibly good. Perhaps my translator knew where to take me but I eat very well. Peking Duck, traditional King’s lunch, non-endemic foods from southern China (dim sum) and Japan (sushi) were outrageously good. And yes, I did go on a small shopping spree, buying some jade items and silk sheets.
Overall, a great trip. Next time, I will spend more time and perhaps go to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau and venture into southeast Asia.