My last day in China will be spent doing a handful of different things from spa type things (hair – 100 yuan; mani and pedi 256 yuan, foot/shoulder massage 317 yuan) and to see a Chinese Medicine Man who cost entirely too much given he would start something that cost next to nothing and then half way through alert me to the requirement to pay an exorbitant cost for the medicine to take home with me for the treatment to work. Sounds familiar. But the rest was probably a fifth of the price of what it would have been in the US hence the reason for it just like the purchase of several cartons of cigarettes at only $2.00 a pack.
Next was supposed to be an attempt to try and soak in the last bit of Chinese culture I can find from the Art District to the Peking Opera. However, there was no time for the Art District (but looked like it would be cool and was highly recommended) but I did make time to attend the Peking Opera for $150 yuan on my last night.
Peking Opera is a practice that has been in existence for hundreds of years and I felt I couldn’t leave without seeing it given it is a huge part of China’s culture and history. It’s like coming here and not seeing the Great Wall or drinking tea I thought. A popular phrase spoken and sung in this particular opera was “I am confounded” in Chinese of course and appropriately so as I was just that – confounded. Mesmerized and annoyed at the same time. The costumes and make up were exquisite but the eyes of the actresses/singers while astonishing were borderline frightening. It seemed they were like glass eyes and as if they never or at least rarely blinked. But the female voices were like nails on a chalk board. Their lips pursed and merely a shriek escaping from them. Confounded as I said as I patiently absorbed the spectacle. It was a good sendoff from China. It pretty much encompassed the way I feel about China as a whole. Sometimes mesmerized but mostly annoyed and always confounded.
Now I will say goodbye to China probably forever unless I cross back into the West of China when I travel to Nepal, Burma and of course Tibet. Maybe just to see Lhasa. It has been a difficult journey here. Exhausting spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. There are great things to see here and I would recommend the journey at least once to everyone but probably wouldn’t recommend it more than once and certainly not in July or August. For the first time in a year and a half or more, I’m looking forward to a short break at home.
I will say that I can’t help but crack a smile when I hear the newbies (i.e. China first time visitors) talk to each other out loud and say things like “Why are they [the Chinese] doing that [cutting, pushing, stepping on, etc] to us?” I’m not sure I, as a westerner, could ever get used to it but can’t help but smile knowing that the newbies have absolutely no idea what is in store for them.
That’s all for good from Beijing, China.