Monday, December 17, 2007

Postcard From China

Believe it or not I'm blogging today and all of this week from Beijing, China where I arrived on Saturday afternoon for a one week stay.

Why China? Well it's cheaper than Europe. In fact last night Allison and I had dinner for two including drinks for less than the price of a Martini at the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

Why go in December? Well, I have the whole month off from my teaching duties and while the place is overrun with Chinese it's not overrun with tourists.

I've never been to Asia or the Far East before and I wouldn't know a Hutong from the Wu Tang Clan but China is nothing like I expected it to be.

Most unexpected is the prosperity and abundance that is now prevalent in the Chinese capital. My expectations of China were frozen in the images I saw on TV when Nixon made his first visit here in the early '70's. But millions of Chinese dressed in army fatigues and holding little red books are things of the past. Chanel has much more of an influence on fashion than Chou En Lai these days.

Within a block of the hotel where we are staying there is a Rolls Royce dealer. A few doors away from him is a Ferrari dealer. Each one has a couple of new cars on the showroom floor.

So much for bicycles being the preferred mode of transportation for the proletariat.

So far the most sublime moment of the trip occurred yesterday when we stopped in at the Raffles hotel for a drink after visiting the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. On the landing of the staircase a duet consisting of a harpist and I violinist were playing that '60's Brian Hyland song, "Sealed With A Kiss."

I should also mention that the hotel lobby was fully decorated for Christmas including a beautiful live Christmas tree.

Sweetest message from home thus far came from my 12 year old daughter who e-mailed to say, "Hi Dad thanks for the photo, send more. Yesterday I was at the Christmas Unity Telethon and Dr. Laura and that Arthur guy were there. I'll tell you about it later."

Can't wait to get home and hear about that.

I will be posting photos from the trip on If you click on the "photo scrapbook" link in the column to the right you should be able to view them or you can try going to and typing in "craigsmithsblog."

Finally, a technical note. You may have noticed that today's post has a different appearance than what you are used to seeing here. It's because access to, where my blog is hosted, is blocked by the Chinese government. In order to post anything I have to compose it as an e-mail and then send it to a special address. However that means no hyperlinks and no custom formatting.

And you thought that Wendy McCaw was the only person who blocked access to my blog.

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