Sunday, March 27, 2005

USA | New York | Chingis Khan

From the Big Dumpling I took a grueling non-stop flight on Air China 13.5 hours to the Big Apple. Fortunately I had an emergency row seat to stretch out in and a good book on which to space out—The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor—and so arrived in New York only slightly discombobulated by the 12 hour time change.
I took a bus from the airport to the Hotel Pennsylvania across from Penn Station in Manhattan. This is a unbelievably horrible dump but I stayed here simply because the bus from the airport stops here and I was too tired and lazy to look for anyplace else. So the moment I got in my room I of course turned on the TV—I had not watched TV for at least four months—and the first thing I saw was a History Channel special on Chingis Khan. On the one hand this was very cheesy—the guy playing Chingis did not even look Mongolian and everyone spoke some very strange language which was definitely not Mongolian—but on the other hand the narrator mentioned several places where I had been in my travels in Mongolia. Here I was in a hotel room in New York and it was like I never left Mongolia. (By the way, Ganchimeg, a Mongolian living in NYC, insists that the Discovery Channel special on Chingis it much better than the History Channel version; I have not seen it.)

Broadway in the Big Apple (Note for those in Bruedersthal; this is Broadway in New York City, and not Broadway in Berlin, PA)

China | Beijing | Shopping | Snakes

Popped down from the Big Buutz to the Big Dumpling (Beijing). Was stunned when I stepped out the airport by 72 degree F. temperatures. Still snow on the ground in the Big Buutz. The Apple store on Wanfujing now has Mac-minis and iPod Shuffles in stock. Bought more tea, which was my real reason for coming to Beijing. Then went out to a strange Hui restaurant where a very louche-looking woman with red (I assume dyed) hair danced in stage with a five-foot long snake around her neck. She then enticed drunken Chinese businessmen in suits to join her on stage. She made them dance, as best they could, although their best would have shamed a dancing bear, and then hung the snake around their necks while they gyrated. All this accompanied by the cheers of their fellow diners, who were seriously into their cups. There must be some very esoteric symbolism to this but I am still trying to figure it out. All and all a very bizarre place . . . Then to the book store . . . bought a copy of Karen Armstrong’s Islam for my friend so she could read about her religion in English. Oddly enough, she also wanted a copy of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.