His straw hat, translucent aging skin, suspenders and slow, jerky pace told the story of a full life already lived. His eyes blinked frequently as if he were deep in thought, or perhaps his nervous system was firing in unique ways. His cane was curvy, asymmetrical, and the yellow-tinged wood was accented with walnut-colored blotches. He later told me that he had been walking along a river one day, noticed the “stick,” picked it up and after returning home had tinkered with stain and varnish until it looked right.
As he approached the large glass turnabout entrance to the hotel, his slow pace came to a halt. Jim, a psychiatrist, priest and therapist from New York City, who lived only one block from Central Park, took in the grand glass and gilded entrance.
“Dan!” his rough, aged voice beckoned his slightly younger brother who was trailing behind, “Would you look at this lobby!?”
Later that evening at dinner in the restaurant, I sat by Jim and Dan. I smiled as Jim said, “Dan!” leaning back in his chair, his eyes taking in the architectural grandeur of the restaurant ceiling, “Would you look at that ceiling?”
Dan looked. I looked. We both responded with impressed comments. And…the comments or thoughts haven’t yet halted.
The lobby is exquisite. The door handles are like stacks of frosted glass balls. The hotel is accented with lighted, frosted columns, gilded art, winding staircases, fresh flowers, grand meeting rooms…but “Ornate” certainly isn’t limited to our hotel.
The “grandeur” and “wow factor” is clearly an important aspect of Chinese architecture and design.
In the older parts of the city, Chinese lanterns and dragons are everywhere. Red and gold are splashed across the city like some two-toned paint fairy rained pixie dust in those colors all over Beijing.
The 2008 Olympics influenced an entire renovation, spewing forth more “wow factor” than every before. The “Bird’s Nest” stadium is amazing, the Dragon Head, body and tail make impressive hotel accommodations, and the Olympic Torch structure is massive.
Tomorrow we’re taking a break from our meetings and as we climb the stairs to hike the Great Wall, the first thing I’ll wonder is whether or not Jim is is saying to his brother, “Dan, would you look at that Great Wall!?”
Note – I’m having a bit of internet connection troubles tonight, so I’m simply inserting a “gallery” for demonstration-of-point photos. Click on any image to see it in a larger size. Please write comments or questions about any of the photos. And, can you spot Jim?