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.
The golden sun traverses the clear sky in a low wintry arc, rising no more than 45 degrees above the horizon.
Direct sunlight is bright and does not threaten.
The sun's rays are generous with their warmth.
The leafless trees, lonely evergreens, sepia hills, and frozen streams have a charm all their own.
Young girls and boys are warmly dressed in bright yellow, orange, red and blue down coats, pants and caps. Mother or father carries and hugs his child like a precious commodity (one child policy).
My own woolen cap, woolen scarf, woolen gloves, woolen sweater, woolen pants, woolen socks and woolen overcoat are comfortable and comforting.
The feeling of snow beneath my feet is appealing and enjoyable.
The sight of my own breath is a cheerful surprise.
Are winter sports somewhere in my future? Or, can I just buy a ticket and go directly to "apres ski" for a cup of hot chocolate? Maybe a hot adult beverage?
Enough of this chilly chatter.
When I return to Bangkok I will sharpen my blades and glide to my desk. I will wax my runners and schuss to my computer. I will slalom down serious slopes and over challenging moguls. Since I'm no Marco Polo, I must stretch the muscles in my fingers to write my Travel Letters from China.
I will be busy in Bangkok where it is one of the hottest winters in decades. I am happy to return to the heat.
I will miss my new friends Diego and Yu Li, Song Na and Xin Ying.
Will I miss the winter season? Will I miss the woolens? Will I miss the steam, the cloud of my own breath rising into the chilly Beijing air? Will I?
Cheers and Happy New Year,
Rosy Cheeks Jan