I parked my bike and found a coffee shop just in time, as I look out the window and watch people scramble for shelter from the sudden downpour. Beijing has been in unfathomably hot and humid for a few weeks, broken only recently by some rain. It’s the first Sunday in quite a while that it’s comfortable enough to get on my bicycle for a ride across town, look for streets I’ve never found before. It’s good to remember that Beijing is so much bigger than the diplomatic and business quarter of the eastern Chaoyang District.
I did take a few days off last week to visit Penang, Malaysia. I still remember when, in fall 2004, new passport in hand, I left North America for the first time to spend a year there as an exchange student. It was incredible to go back, and striking how familiar it felt.
It’s wonderful that much of the downtown became a UNESCO heritage site a few years ago, so a lot of what makes the island state unique are still there.