China for the New Year (2): arrival

My two-week trip to China began with some problematic flights with Air France. Thanks to snow in northern France, our flight from London Heathrow to Paris Clarke de Gaulle was delayed by about three quarters of an hour and we worried if we would make our connecting flight. We did – but only just. Then we found that we sat on the aircraft for a long time while they de-iced the wings and, in the end, we took off almost an hour and half late. It was a turbulent take-off and landing and, as we descended to Beijing, poor Joshua repeatedly threw up.

Here in Beijing, we’re spending three nights at a wonderful boutique hotel located in a hutong (the old pre- modernisation remnants of the city) near the Houhai Lake on the northern side of the centre of this vast city of some 22 million. The Shichahai Hotel is dedicated to the preservation of the art of shadow puppets and, as we ate a light dinner in the small covered courtyard, we watched a performance of this amazing art form that predates cinema by about 2,000 years.


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