Sunday, November 27, 2016

my old Beijing

I had never been back to Beijing since I left in 2009. I mean, it's not like we didn't want to. But there was so much world to discover after we moved to Toronto, and tickets to Beijing weren't that cheap either. And then, early November, an opportunity came up – work trip to Beijing! Whoa! Sure, it was going to be one hell of a short trip (like most my work trips), but the idea that I'd be back to one of the places I called home? Exhilarating!

On the plane, as we entered Chinese space and approached the city, I couldn't keep my eyes away from the window. I recognized the brown, rugged terrain. The mountains in the distance, gently surfacing from among the clouds, resembled a Chinese painting... I remembered how at ease I had felt when I revisited Beirut after not being back for about eight years. I hoped I'd feel the same in Beijing. And was worried I would set foot and not feel that "home" feeling anymore...

Fortunately, my fears were completely unfounded. I easily found my way around the too-familiar airport, breezed by customs, and in no time I was arriving at my hotel, the Landmark Towers, the very same hotel where my habibi and me stayed when we arrived to Beijing in 2005! Crazy! Though the next days I was really busy with work – and, by the way, really happy too, as it was a most productive trip! – I took every single moment I could to enjoy being back home in Beijing...

For instance, my very first day I hurried to Wangfujing, a pedestrianized shopping area where my habib and me spent countless hours buying books, having dumplings, simply walking around, visiting the night food-street, watching musicians... All of it was there. Exactly as I remembered.

That very same day I re-explored the area between Wangfujing and the Forbidden City. Walking around the city's old hutongs (alleys) was wonderful! The narrow spaces, the rickshaws, the carts that sold Beijing pancakes (jianbing). I even came across a few places selling the same pots of yoghourt I used to drink in hot summer days back when I was a student in Beijing (late nineties)! Memories, memories and more memories!

On my last day I also headed to the Embassy area for another familiar sight – trees that turned golden in the fall. Beijing doesn't have many trees that change colour when fall comes, so these ones are special, and famous. It felt really good seeing them again...

I was really glad to see my good ole' Beijing was still there. Sure, some things had changed a bit (more on that in my next posts), but I still felt like I was back home after a very brief and insignificant absence. Happy. 

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