New Year’s Capital Resolutions

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Making Beijing promises––to yourself

We’re all talk. We all say it, we all think it. But do we really do it? Sure, we have good intentions, but life gets in the way sometimes, and suddenly you’re staring down the barrel of No More Beijing and you realise you haven’t set a single toe into the shadows of the Forbidden City.

Well, okay, missing Gu Gong might be a stretch – but have you seen Prince Gong’s mansion, tucked into the alleyways of Hou Hai? Have you set foot on the monumentally historical Marco Polo Bridge in Feng Tai District – studded with 485 carved stone lions? Do you even know what happened there? Did you know there is a museum of Chinese architecture located inside a Ming dynasty temple in Xuanwu District, with elaborate examples from mud huts to Qing Dynasty palaces? Don’t you want the kids to see that? I know I do.

When we first arrived in Beijing, my husband and I made a pact that we’d take the kids somewhere new every weekend. But life often got in the way. We also said we’d try a new restaurant every Friday night and visit the Ming Tombs and that teensy park in the city’s north. But once again, life got in the way.

No more! I cry. We are down to the wire here. We have to grab this town and slip it on like a coat. We have to saturate ourselves in the smells and the sounds and the idiosyncrasies of this amazing city. But most of all, we have to just sit and stare at a wall of artist’s brushes or peony bushes, and absorb the beauty and the intense undercurrent of energy that’s flooding Beijing right now. It’s really incredible.

So, we’re making a Beijing resolution this Western new year and I urge your family to do the same. Get out. Dive in. See it. Feel it. Experience it. Take photos to prove it, because our time here goes so fast.

One day we will surely regale our grandchildren with legendary tales of expat life during this absurdly historic time in Beijing. How fortunate we are to be living here right now, witnessing an ancient city in rebirth.

Make the resolution. Just do it.

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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