Today was our first non jetlag day. Lots of surprises today. It seems that Beijing has adopted Christmas. Even the taxi drivers who speak English are saying Merry Christmas. Christmas trees, reindeer, Santa Claus images are everywhere. Restaurants have people wearing red caps with a white ball on top. Yet, many of the people I talked with who speak some English were quick to tell me that it is just a holiday. Not Religious. This seems like the big debate we have been having in the U.S. The difference is here, in China, there seem to be no qualms about calling it Christmas. Happy Holidays would mean nothing. But Merry Christmas means buy things. May be in a few years, sadly, the U.S. will be there too. No longer will Christmas have any religious meaning. It will be just another secular holiday with the encouragement to buy things.
Next, you see new construction everywhere. It looks like most of the world’s high rise cranes are here in Beijing. No matter which direction you look, you see construction. Beijing is an ancient city which means it is impossible to touch the ground without finding artifacts. Yet, for the most part, they are treated like trash and hauled away. Very little is saved. I have heard several stories to that effect. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are only 4000 traditional Courtyard Houses left in a city of 12 million. And many of them are in danger. More on this later.
Tomorrow we are going to the Imperial Palace.