Easter Sunday, and it is remarkably beautiful out. The airport expressway has cottonwood poplar trees all of which are showing the beginnings of their leaves. I can almost see them extending themselves in millimeters as we ride along, noting tree after tree. Planted unnaturally, with a disproportionate number of females to males, they will each begin to seed and the white puffballs will become airborne and pollute the springtime with their pollinated, dirty refuse. But that’s for another day. The dusty spring winds from the Gobi desert are also for later next month. For now, briefly, Beijing is flawless.
We chose a different venue this year for our Easter Sunday brunch. For years we’d followed friends to the Easter brunch there at the Kempinski Hotel, where they lay out what seems like hundreds of yards of food and an end zone of desert. They diligently try to cover just about every cuisine that might ever patronize the hotel and the champagne flows and one go back for seconds of steak tartar or lobster tails.
Our friend insisted that the management had recently changed. He had visited the brunch last month and had a bad experience. And Easter snuck up quickly this year and no one had prepared so we scratched our heads a few days ago and tried to find an alternative. We have ended up at the Grand Hyatt on Chang An Jie. This would not have been my choice. I doubt we’ll return.
We got there and asked where to go. There weren’t many people around in the second floor dining area. In our minds we expected crowds and a scramble to get some kind of descent seating. This is how it usually is. Rather it was wide open. “Are you here for the birthday party?” I had a sinking feeling. They’d conflated a few events for the day here in the buffet area. Well, birthday, rebirth, whatever. The food was fine, though there wasn’t much by way of people watching and before long we were all commenting on how warm it was, sitting there.
So let’s go outside to what was there below us out the window. The cool air was an immediate upgrade and we strolled about there on the big plaza. Li Kashing had built out this complex in the 90’s. He’d intended it to be taller but was reigned in mid-construction by the authorities who were not pleased to see something so tall going up near to the sacred crosshairs of the emperor’s throne and the mandatory low zoning of Zhongnanhai and center-most Beijing. Adjustments were made after the central government authorities put a stop to what had already been approved by the civic authorities.
The sun seemed so strong. Looking up I noticed that it was merely the reflection of the sun off the glass building beside us. We took some photos and strolled about for a bit. But people complained about the pain in their feet. And Chang An Jie is always so austere and sensitive. Much of this part of Beijing was long ago ruined and repaved, so that it isn’t very nice to walk around in. I’d suggested the cherry blossoms of nearby Beidahe. But it was all a bit late and the decision was made to head back to the burbs. My younger one was to see the new Batman_Superman movie with a friend. “We’re gonna be late!” So we headed back to the basement garage. Mercifully, there was no Easter traffic.