Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dancing Beijing

I’ve tried at different times in my life to become interested in things that I thought I probably should be interested in. Gardening, baking, needlepoint, mountain biking among many others. Finally, in my forties, I have given up trying to cultivate new hobbies. I realize that, for whatever reason, I am naturally excited about and attuned to certain things. And I’m too short on time to feign interest where it doesn’t exist.

I’ve discovered over the years that I am wildly interested in literature, human history, the natural world and—yes, it’s true—sport. Most of my travel, and probably yours too, is an attempt to indulge one of these passions. Toward that end, I’ve decided that my next big trip will be to Beijing for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. I’ve only just decided to go so I have tickets yet to buy and a visa to secure, but I’m optimistic that I can pull it together by August. We shall see.

In the meantime, I’ll undertake my usual pre-adventure learning. Ever since I read Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, I have been fascinated by Imperial China. Of course, Red China was a frequent topic of conversation during my childhood. And now Modern China, with its growing presence on the global stage—including its debut as host of the Olympic Games—is subject to much discussion and analysis in the worldwide media.

To prepare I’ll review Chinese history, become educated about Chinese art and architecture, read Chinese literature—at the moment The Warrior Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston. I'm sure I won’t be able to escape the darker side of Chinese culture: poverty, human rights issues, overpopulation, environmental abuse, nationalism, Tibet. But China has survived for thousands of years, and has gone through many transformations. It’s not a country that can be easily summed up as good or bad. Just as it is vast and varied, so too is its history. And its people. And its many sights and wonders.

Every Olympiad has an emblem. The emblem for the Chinese games is called Dancing Beijing. It is an invitation to the world to visit China and enjoy the banquet she has prepared for us. I, for one, am thrilled to be on the guest list!



T.R. said...

You are the voice of reason in a sea of insanity.

See you there!

b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
b said...

I wish I could crawl in your suitcase... Such a marvelous opportunity. I love China for reasons I can't even explain.
Keep us posted.


Marie Walden said...

b, I'm looking forward, with a bit of trepidation I'll admit, to visiting China.

I'm considering bringing my laptop and writing about my daily adventures. I've heard that laptops are being confiscated in suspicionless searches and held for weeks by Homeland Security, a hassle I'd like to avoid.

It's sad when you fear your government more than that of Communist China!

T.R. said...

Marie, it's been eye-opening my three days here. So far it seems our media has done a great disservice to China. It is nothing, so far, like I expected; a pleasant surprise. I can't wait to hear from you perspective.