Oct '05 - Jan '07
Hmmm, big holes in the ground, big models, construction sites? Why? I want to see Beijing. It was interesting to see Lab Architecture's SOHO development, but there was too much time there. What did we learn? Well, I am still in love with scaffolding and the building scrim. But also, manual labor is cheap in Beijing. Working conditions are dismal at best. The developer giving us a tour laughed at the fact that the safety codes are much looser in China. If they were building that in America, his workers would need steel toed boots . . . so they can save a lot of money by endangering his workers. And he laughed. Hmm. Other things I saw at the construction site were workers temporary living quarters where their family would also live. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the rotten rice and dough the workers ate.
So, after some time there, it is onto the Temple of Heaven . . . or is it the Kingdom of Heaven? Either way. It was a place with very interesting energy. I know every time I say something like that it sounds real tree hugging hippyish, but really, something was nice about how I felt there. People were having fun, playing cards, singing, dancing, very interesting. And then of course was the Hall of Echoes . . . damn, all of these names escape me. The story goes that if you stand in just the right place in this out door space, and sort of cup your hands together, then the sound will return to you 9 times. It has to do with how the space is layed out. Because there were too many people and the place was now very old, the effect did not work anymore, but it was fun to think about. At one point all of us had to stop what we were doing because some seemingly Easter European guy who was damn important I guess, came through. I had no idea who he was, but I felt the military present should make me stay put.
If there is a metro around, I want to be on it.
And as if I did not feel like a tourist already, the Beijing Opera. There are a few things about this event that should have led me to believe that it was not going to be as cool as I thought. Wait, is that a sentence . . . But a few things, one, it was in a hotel, and two, we had to go through a bunch of kiosks selling crap to be able to get into the theatre.
I am no expert on Chinese music or mythology, but something tells me we paid a hell of a lot to watch crap. Now, I know that Chinese music evolved with a different set of chords and tuning that makes it sound different than most western music I have heard. But I also know when a singer sucks. Basically we watched amateurs trying to pass as professionals, or maybe they were professionals, but they were being lazy. Either way, we were stewing in a tourist trap.