Asia #3: Beijing

Beijing has got to have the monopoly on the 30-story building. They go on as far as you can see. Not only that, but they come in fives, an endless series of 30-story quintuplets. Cruising along in your taxi, every once in a while the sameness is interrupted by a startling architectural contradiction. There is The Dragon Skyscraper. (It really does look like one!) There is a 50+ story building downtown that looks like an upside down U and the Bird’s Nest (Olympic Stadium) is truly a sight to behold.

Bicycles are everywhere, as if impervious to the record cold. (As cold as it’s been in Maine this week, it’s been colder in Beijing.) Cyclists share the road with cars, miraculously managing to avoid colliding with each other. It was all we could do to avoid shrieking out loud as they missed each other by mere inches with neither driver nor pedaler showing the least bit of alarm in their expressions. Somehow they co-exist as they get where they’re going.

The food sure lived up to its billing. We had Peking Duck, Yunnan cuisine, and on the last night we enjoyed Manchu for dinner, thanks to one of our Beijing Hyde parents. Awesome all around.

On our last day we braved the incredible cold up in the mountains and toured the Great Wall. What can I say, other than the fact that you really couldn’t name it anything else.

A few hours before heading to Shanghai, we interviewed a 15-year old girl who has applied to enroll at Hyde next year. It reminded me of Jackson Brown’s “The Load Out,” an ode to life on the road as a rock musician. Near the song’s end, the singer notes, “Then those lights come up, and we hear that crowd, and we remember why we came.” There are few things more inspiring than a teenage girl earnestly looking for an opportunity to better her life. She has worked hard on her English and pledged to us her commitment to improve double-fold before school opens next September. We told her that we thought we could work with that. She broke into a deep grin…… and we remembered why we came.

Next stop, Shanghai. Onward, Malcolm Gauld