I'm no longer in Beijing so I don't have much more to add to Beijing Observer. Why don't you head over to my other China blog, which is MUCH MORE INTERESTING. It's called In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock and it's about the still unexplored areas of South West China visited by botanist Joseph Rock in the 1920s. I've been to many of the same places he went to and taken pictures to compare hopw they look now with then. Here's an example:
Muli monastery in 1927:
And Muli monastery now:
The old monastery, about three days hike northeast of Lugu Lake used to house almost a thousand monks. It was the centre of power for the whole Muli "kingdom", ruled by a lama king called Chote Chaba, who became a friend of the visiting American, Joseph Rock. The monastery complex was destroyed in the late 1950s after the communist takeover of Sichuan. The monks could not challenge the power of the Party and the PLA. In my blog you can read all about Rock's visit and my own follow up visits almost 80 years later. The blog also covers my visits to other areas explored by Rock, such as Minya Konka, Yading and Deqin.