It was the night after Thanksgiving 2013, and it was my wife and I’s second night in Beijing. The fact that we were even there, in the center of China’s northern capital, was a surprise to us both. Kristin had a couple weeks off work and, at the last minute, we booked her a flight to China while I was on a business trip in Shanghai. It was the first time she met me while I was working abroad, and the spontaneity of the trip made it all the more exciting for us both.
Our first full day in Beijing was busy with sight seeing, leaving me extremely tired after just having worked a long week in Shanghai. We both wanted to check out some of the local sushi and ended up at Guanghuadonglu, a Japanese restaurant several miles away from our hotel. Beijing, we discovered, was much more spread out than we had imagined it would be. We tried to hail a cab after our late night meal with no success, discovering that it was quite frustrating to find cabs at certain hours of the night. We decided to stop in a hotel and ask for the closest Metro station so we could get home. We found someone at the hotel who spoke English, and they stated to head towards the CCTV building and turn right. We had no idea what the CCTV building was, but we nodded and headed in the direction pointed.
As we strolled through the brisk winter night in Beijing, a man in a little mini Tuc Tuc offered to take us home for about $100 USD. We just laughed and strolled on our way, but started to have the familiar feeling of a lost child wandering. Suddenly, a monstrous building appeared in front of us of which the likes we have never seen before. It was almost like an alien building dropped into the middle of Beijing with huge satellites jutting out in every which direction. Seeing such a uniquely beautiful building in the middle of night made me forget about all my tired feet and actually made me realize where I was. I forgot about the fact that I was completely lost and marveled at what was sitting in front of me. Nobody was around and we both just couldn’t believe our eyes at the design and creativity that must have gone into building such a structure.
This of course did end up being the CCTV building, and we realized it is one of the most photographed and iconic images of Beijing. We actually made a journey back to this amazing structure a couple days later to really marvel in its awkward and magnificence. We were lost, cold, and tired when Beijing shook me by the heals and forced itself to be heard and seen.