I’ve been in China for three days now, and it feels like three years.  In the good way.

Thanks to the amazing services of my Beijing Bookworm Festival volunteer, June, I’ve managed to fit about four days into every one.

I’ve met what feels like hundreds of wonderful people — teachers, students, festival workers, book people, the 23-year-old son of a very old friend, a photographer from London, and an extraordinary variety of people  who seem just to have ended up here — for reasons they can’t always explain.

And they all say the same thing.  They love Beijing. Really, really love it.

‘It’s the energy,’ they say, ‘the opportunities.’ ‘The Chinese are so welcoming.’  ‘Anything is possible.’  ‘It’s changing so fast.’  And….’I can’t explain it, I just fell in love with the place.’

It suddenly reminds me a little of how I felt when I first arrived in London in 1977 — it was raw and grimy and nothing worked very well. The winter was cold, everything was on strike and there was no central heating. And the food…at least Beijing has amazing food. But the music was fantastic and the place buzzed with life. Anything was possible. Life hadn’t quite jelled.  You could live cheaply. It was amazing fun.

And I was twenty. That didn’t hurt either.


8 thoughts on “What IS it about China?

  1. Raych 8 years ago

    I am usually jealous of you for being Meg, but I am currently BLINDINGLY jealous of you for being Meg-in-Beijing. Enjoy yourself and then return home so I can go back to being the regular amount of jealous.

  2. kokorako 8 years ago

    It’s nice to hear about what’s going on in China (isn’t this THE land of the blogger??), but expect you won’t hear too much about the apparently lovely old bits of Beijing that are going to be pulled down (without compensation) in order to continue the development buzz/make malls etc.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Actually you hear about it endlessly. From local Chinese and foreigners. You’d be surprised what everyone is happy to talk about if you ask. Single child policy, government land grab, the cultural revolution, Tibet…..

  3. Sarah 8 years ago

    It is really, really great to hear you’re enjoying China Meg. I hope you enjoyed the Great Wall? It was wonderfully inspiring hearing you speak to our students yesterday and you left us with a buzzing enthusiasm circulating the school! Some of the students who listened to you talk about discovering your self identity have been relating what you said to their own lives and it has started some interesting discussions. Anyway, this is just to say a big thank you for visiting us!

  4. bookwitch 8 years ago

    Have you seen my cousins? Twins, so they look the same.

  5. Roddy Chu 8 years ago

    For something REALLY unusual, from Bizarre Foods on the U.S. Travel Channel:
    Donghuamen Night Market
    Perhaps not Beijing’s most appetizing exhibit — its stalls’ menus include deep-fried scorpions, seahorses on a stick, skewered grasshoppers — you’ll find a smattering of creepy crawlies in consumable form at this oasis for the hungry (and those who want their food quick and cheap, too). If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, play your own version of Fear Factor, and see who comes out the winner and who emerges with nothing more than a bellyache. The market does sell “normal” cuisine, as well, but if you don’t speak a word of Chinese, now might be a good time to employ a translator.

  6. Sharon Creech 8 years ago

    Yes, I felt similarly when I arrived in England in 1979, with two young children in tow . . .

  7. Cathy cassidy 8 years ago

    Told you you’d love it!

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