Monday, November 16, 2009

A random, ceaseless churning...

I'm staying near the Drum Tower, probably my favorite area in Beijing -- in a city that's become a massive monument to China's massive global aspirations, it's one of the few neighborhoods that's still built to human scale. Even so, Gulou is still characterized by the same seemingly endless construction and remodeling that goes on throughout the capital.

For example, the entire Drum Tower/Bell Tower plaza and surrounding hutongs (lanes) are totally torn up. The pavement has been jackhammered or pick-axed away, fresh asphalt laid in places though most of the lanes and plaza are still exposed, rutted dirt (making the efforts of huge tour busses trying to squeeze down tiny allies even more absurd and amusing than usual). There are stacks of gray paving stones everywhere. I have no idea what any of this is for, if it was needed or what the end result will be, though I expect I'll see it before I leave in mid-December. Walking down Guloudong Dajie (Drum Tower East Road), I navigate similar obstacles of torn-up road and sidewalk and stacks of gray brick. Workers at all hours carry beams and wallboard in and out of little stores in the process of remodeling.

There's simply so much activity here, always, all the time, in a city with thousands of years of history that never stands still.

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