In June, I had the luxury of taking a 3-week trip to China, covering a total of six cities, going from the north to south, east to west, and finally back to the north. Over the last 20 years, I had visited China about twice a year. But my short trips were limited mostly to Beijing, Qingdao and Changchun. I was excited about this trip and would love to share some of my experiences and photos.
I. At Tsinghua University (清华大学), Beijing
I arrived first at Beijing, having scheduled meetings with a couple of publishers in the city. Mr. Zhao, a friend’s friend helped me set up the meetings and arranged for me to stay at a hotel on the campus of Tsinghua University. It would be more convenient for the meetings, he told me.
I had worked in Beijing for four years in the early 1980s, but had never set foot on this first-rate university in China, which the Chinese referred to as the “MIT of China.” Mr. Zhao, also a writer, sent a young man to meet me at the airport. As our taxi entered the gate of the university, I was surprised by the enormous size of campus as the young man kept giving directions to cab driver—it felt like a city inside the walled campus! Wide streets with nice landscape, canals with artistic bridges, buildings, old and new, gardens,
and walking trails that disappeared under the trees. Not to mention streams of students walking or on their bicycles … I was amazed by the scenes revealing before me.
Mr. Zhao and his wife graciously took me out for a northern cuisine dinner. I retired early for the night, trying to get over my jetlag. Despite the Melatonin pill I took, I woke up at 4 a.m. the following morning. As soon as the light became brighter outside, I put on my running gear and went out to explore the campus.
For the three days I stayed there, I ran for an hour each morning, taking a different route each time. Still I was not able to cover all the ground on campus. The various parks, gardens, ponds covered with lotus, with people fishing by their sides, the outdoor track fields, rows of apartment buildings, cars, and bicycles. I got lost in the maze and had to find my way back to a major pond in order to return to my hotel.
I couldn’t help from admiring the young men and women walking on campus—they are the brightest children of China and will surely have a bright future.
Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. The book has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.