The cacophony of car horns
Curled tongues at the end of every word
Clearing the throat of phlegm … followed by the inevitable sound of spitting … on the street … next to your foot
Where an AQI over 200 means take shallow breaths
The inviting sound of rain signaling a clear tomorrow
Toddlers peeing by the sidewalk
Grown men peeing by the sidewalk
Men baring their bellies to cool off
Old men walking their birds in the park
Animated card games
Grandmothers dancing in the park
Graceful tai chi movements
Inventing your very own form of sign language with exaggerated gestures
The joy of being understood
The frustration at understanding only every five words spoken
The din of motor bikes
Dui, dui, dui, dui, dui, dui
Sidewalk barber shops, a pile of hair neatly swept to the side
Music blaring from the mobile boot-legged CD vendor
Selling anything from the trunk of a car
Where a cloth on the floor and a few knick-knacks means you’re an entrepreneur
Avoiding going blind from looking into the green laser lights for sale at busy intersections
Fearing for your life from pedi-cabs passing by
The constant ringing of bike bells
Coming home with bruised arms from everyone who bumped into you
Carrying a small towel everywhere you go to wipe the grime from your face
Forcing your way onto the subway train
Forcing your way out of the subway train
The rancid smell of bodies huddled together on the train
Blaring unending car horns … that everyone ignores
Being accosted at the market … Lady, lady, you want a bag?
Bargaining as if your life depended on it
Wondering if it’s silk or polyester
Never feeling you got the better part of the bargain
Long distance phone calls that never connect
Carrying tissue with you at all times
Squatting and praying you don’t slip
Avoiding looking at the trash can in the ladies’ room
The joy of ice cubes
Ten dollar foot massages
Sweating in the back seat of un-air conditioned taxis
Not knowing whether its best to open the window to let air in or close the window to keep pollution out
Undistinguishable odors emanating from food vendor stalls
Contemplating ordering the jelly-like mass on the menu but deciding against it
The best soup dumplings ever
Craving sautéed bitter greens and bamboo shoots
Funky nail art
A mountain of shaved ice under condensed milk and slices of mango
~~ * ~~
Zàijiàn doesn’t mean goodbye … it means see you again
19 thoughts on “Zàijiàn Beijing”
Wow – no photos, but so many images, smells and sounds! I am there right with you! Thank you for another wonderful post!
It is definitely an assault to the senses! I leave tomorrow but luckily return in about a month.
Wow! That’s very descriptive, I feel like I following you through.
You definitely experience this place with sounds, smells, touch, eyes, and the heart.
Well most of it. Perhaps not the men’s bellies!
So descriptive – lovely writing.
Wonderful. Your words recreated so many of my own experiences of Beijing and Shanghai. Thanks for sharing.
Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry as I remember these moments.
Hi, I really enjoy reading your blog, I can really relate to your last article! Funnily I also knit a lot. Keep up the great work 🙂
Thanks for stopping by. Show us some of your knitting sometime!
We only visited Beijing for a few days last year, but your post was both a reminder of our visit and a challenge to go back again (when they sort out the air pollution?)
I went back and read all your Beijing and Tokyo posts – so fascinating! I made it to Avril yarns in Tokyo, where you pay by weight also: you work out how much you need, then convert that to grams, and they wind it off onto small cones.
Last question: do you speak Chinese? We learned a little Cantonese to manage shopping and taxis in Hong Kong, and the kids did basic Mandarin at school, but not much more than that.
What a wonderful poem! I love the imagery.
Glad you liked it. Every time I read it I can picture scenes from the Beijing streets.