Back Home Next

Our hotel "The Big Bell" was a disappointment too, so Mr. Cai switched us the next day (May 25) to the luxurious Beijing Friendship Hotel, very posh. It had CNN, a pricey boutique with the International Herald Tribune (we were starved for news), flower shop (with a Sacred Heart of Mary on the wall surrounded by Valentine hearts!), Japanese, western and French restaurants (the latter called, for some reason "The Tulip"), European pastries, and obsequious help.

Our hotel was the nicest thing about Beijing, which was very, very polluted. Raw throats, stinging eyes. However, the city is very thickly wooded, with trees lining many streets. Heavily planted twenty years earlier. The Big Bell, doubtless worried about its reputation, invited us back for two mediocre dinners.

I found Beijing oppressive, and Tienanmin Square depressing, with thoughts of the 1989 shooting of demonstrators.