Today was visiting Day with Gee Kin’s former professor in Hydraulic Engineering at Tsinghua University. We spent a leisurely day with him and his wife, who is also a professor in Water Resource Engineering. Gee Kin spent a year at Miyun Dam outside of Beijing in 1976 with his professor and other students. They were repairing the massive dam that was damaged by the Tangshan earthquake and that supports Beijing’s population.
The Tsinghua campus is now a bustle of activity and has the energy and flow of Stanford. Google-type buses were everywhere, and students, researchers, post-docs all sped by with focused purpose.
We had an elaborate lunch of Peking Duck, pickled web’s feet, chestnuts and Shanghai cabbage, whole steamed fish, braised pork belly, dry-fried bamboo shoots and green beans, and numerous fruits and sweet desserts.
Since this is the day before our train trip begins, we are taking it easy in this huge metropolis. We trained ourselves to use the new Metro Subway and took several lines each way to become fully versed in one of the largest systems in the world. It was built in only in less than 10 years and is indicative of China’s focus on their infrastructure systems. This is a huge achievement for the country.
More importantly, we observed how kind people were to one another. Passengers were always courteous and apt to get up for elderly people or women with young children. There was no need to provoke a response. It made me proud to be among the Chinese people (the ethnic pride thing in me kicks in!) and I was surprised at these small acts of human kindness within such a massive population. I wondered how often that happened on SF Muni or BART.
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying our neighborhood, where there are many traditional and creative shops to bend the mind (and the pocketbook!). This area has always hosted clever shops, and this new version is only an extension of the past.
It remains to be seen how well we will be able to communicate once we are on the train tomorrow. You may not hear from me for five days or the entire time I am on the train, although the Internet is purportedly available.
If you are interested in seeing more photos of the Courtyard hotel, please go to their website at http://www.Courtyard7.com. They can also be found in Tripadvisor and Booking.com, where I do a lot of my searches for accommodations. I don’t normally talk about hotels, but this one is truly one of a kind. I encourage you to look at the photos of the hotel.