There are still masses of bicycles everywhere, though, sneaking their way down the sides of the car-packed streets, in this city that was once famous for its millions of bikes. (Carole and I both love bikes!)
There is a dreamlike quality in many cities, where buildings and street designs are worked out as they go along and have to fit in and around older structures. In Beijing I fear that they are in danger of knocking down and replacing too much, thus losing the richness of the layers of architectural history that gives most cities their unique characters. The Chinese are only just starting to realise the importance of their heritage and that it must be rescued.
|The body of the dragon...|
|...and the tail|
Another wonderful thing we found was the Shard Shop. Tucked away and quite hard to track down, this little family run business is using old culture in innovative ways. During the Cultural Revolution people were not allowed to keep their traditional Ming and Qing pottery and so thousands of these important pieces were smashed up. The Shard Shop is gathering these shards of pottery and making them into new things. We bought several shard boxes as gifts, lacquered boxes with beautifully decorated blue and white pottery shards inlaid into their lids, curved pieces that hinted at their original life as a huge rounded vase. Wonderful and unique.