And so, just like that, I'm back in California. As I was packing in Beijing it seemed that I'd been there forever but now I'm back it feels like it was only yesterday that I was getting ready to go. Travel does odd things to time.
The last week started to stretch into a blur of activity with additional colleagues arriving and others leaving to return to the US. After about 20 straight days of work I could take a couple of days off. With only a fixed time in Beijing and only some of that to be used for personal time and shooting I wanted to make the most of it.
On my first day I visited Tiantan, the Temple of Heaven. It's an enormous complex of temples and gardens with a truly amazing place. A place where people dance, play cards, chinese chess, tai chi. You name it, people are doing it in the gardens of the Temple of Heaven.
From there I moved on to lunch near Tiananmen Square and then on to the Military Museum. I wanted to visit the Museum for some research on my book but it proved to be more than I expected. Full of aircraft, tanks and other items of military memorabilia but also fascinating exhibits about the various battles fought by China over the centuries.
After schlepping around the Temple of Heaven and the Museum my legs were sore. I sat outside the Museum and rearranged my camera gear, flagged a cab down and asked the driver to take me to the area of the Dongsi Hutongs. As soon as he set off I fell asleep. I woke up to find the driver shaking me and telling me that I had arrived - somewhere. I paid him and stepped out in to the street. I could barely open both my eyes I was so tired. It was late in the afternoon and I could see that the sun was heading down, that gave me a bearing as I headed into the little back alleys.
It's official Beijing is huge. I walked for miles and miles, always in the right direction, getting ever closer to my hotel... and then I gave up and jumped into the subway. It was only two stations away but two stations in Beijing are not like two stations in New York.