China: Beijing

Beijing: "Wanping And The Lugou 'Uncountable Lions' Bridge"

Wanping City
Wanping County

August 9, 2010

From the book: Sights with Stories in Old Beijing *

Editors’ Note:

There is virtually no sight in Beijing that has not a fascinating story or legend attached to it, whether to do with its founding, its architecture or the historical figures associated with it.  This time-honored local lore, still very much alive in the city, weaves marvelous tales around the natural wonders and architectural showpieces of the capital, peopling them with miraculous immortals and imaginatively embroidering their history.

Apocryphal though most of then are, they embody in their story of honest toil and talent and their condemnation of wickedness, a historical reality that all too often is missing from the history books themselves.

Beijing: "Le Retour"

Le Retour

People's Republic of China
January 29, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

When I was a boy, one of my favorite piano works was a set of short studies called "Twenty Five Progressive Pieces," the Opus 100 of Johann Friedrich Burgmuller. I played all the pieces, including the vigorous "Arabesque," Barcarolle" and "Tarantelle," and the melodic and lyrical "Innocence," "Pastorale" and "Tendre Fleur." One piece had a lasting impression. It is called "Le Retour" or "The Return."

"Le Retour" is written in a short sonata form. One theme is introduced and then repeated; then another is played and repeated. The piece closes with the original graceful theme that is both melancholy and hopeful.

Like "Le Retour," my return to Beijing is a little sad but filled with the expectation that the final days of this trip will repeat the vigorous and melodic themes of my initial visit.


Bejing: "Decades"

January 30, 2008 Clear and cold

Leaving China Today

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, the CNN weather reporter announced, "In China, it is the coldest winter in decades." Beijing is unusually cold. Earlier this week there was a big snowstorm in Shanghai in the south, also unusual.

Thick white clouds of steam drift skyward from the tall brick smokestacks of the coal furnaces that are working overtime to keep up with the increase in demand.

There are coal shortages and water shortages and brownouts and blackouts.

At the height of this Spring Festival travel time, transportation is disrupted in many places.

Despite the delays and the chilly restaurants and hotel lobbies, I admit I am beginning to enjoy this winter season.