Guest Overload

Saturday, 8 September 2007

What is it about September, October and November? Has Beijing Capital airport crumbled under the weight of a family and friend influx or what? Everyone is exhausted and run ragged; everyone is busy beyond any kind of sanity and no one has a spare pillow or blanket to save themselves. Houses are full, beds are chock-a-block and Ya Xiu market has paid off the mortgage. But the joyful Guest Season in Beijing is almost over and people are finally shipping their last round of visitors out the door.

Not that we should complain. Having people visit is fun. It gets us off our jaded butts and into the hotspots once again… who could ever have too much of the Beijing hutongs or the Temple of Heaven or the fragrantly smoky forecourt of the Llama Temple?

Most guests are too overwhelmed by this place to sit on your couch and eat jaozi and fart all day. They are out and about, on tours, buzzing around in taxis, balancing on the edge of the Great Wall, snapping photos of the guards marching like tin soldiers in Tian’anmen Square and sampling all manner of unearthly foodie delights. They are buying up trinkets, tshirts and silk. They are bedecking their necks in baubles from the sea, groaning under the skilled hands of a local masseuse and gawping at the provincial throngs, power-surging into the Forbidden City.

Having guests gives us an excuse to go along with them, to enjoy Beijing all over again, to feast, to sample, to roll in it and sigh. It allows us to boast and brag about the kaleidoscope of gorgeousness at our local fruit and veg market. About how we can swathe ourselves in silk for ninety cents and pluck pearls from stalls like day-old cherries. About how we can watch centuries of old China crumble before our very eyes and witness the creation of a New World.

It is a proud and happy time when Guests come to stay. And of course, any excuse to get to Hongqiao and add to the handbag collection …

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