March 15, 2010

On Thin Ice

Unlike most of the major cities on Earth, Beijing is not located near any large body of water. Numerous lakes and streams are sprinkled throughout Beijing's districts to compensate. During the long winter months these waterways are frozen solid. Recreational fishermen dig holes in the ice and wait patiently for the fish to bite. Near the banks, old men strip to their undergarments, stretch, and then take a plunge in the frozen water. Less adventurous types simply skate on the icy surface.

I walked a 2 kilometer stretch of the Liangma river, occasionally having to duck under bridges. Several boats had been ensconced on the riverside. I spotted a man urinating in the middle of the river. He was cool as a cucumber as vapor rose from the area around his feet. To safeguard the public, I also contributed some liquid sealant to mend a few cracks in the ice that I came across.


Beauty, like ice, our footing does betray
Who can tread sure on the smooth, slippery way
Pleased with the surface, we glide swiftly on
And see the dangers that we cannot shun.

- John Dryden -