Ancient Observatory

Nicholas Quirke was flushed with success on 19 May 2020 when he visited Beijing’s ancient Observatory which had been closed to all when he made the attempt to see the museum back in March. It was another glorious day of sunshine and he set off in his usual ‘ I feel like I own Beijing’ on a bike mode. Enroute, at some traffic lights a local started chatting called George who was the same age and was a translator. They cycled and chatted for a while and swapped WeChat Id’s, it was always good to make new friends. A misunderstanding at the gates led him to pointlessly walk around the block before getting into the museum. Gaining entry and communing with the ghosts of the ancient past was an extremely fulfilling event and one that surprised him with the complexity and beauty of the displays. Only seen from a distance, these original exhibits, on close inspection possessed a design and elegance that was breathtaking. The history of the instruments and the stories of the men who had operated and designed them was fascinating some of them predating Galileo and the setting was quite idyllic. He browsed and read for some time before leaving and heading for a tea at a Teasure in U-Town Mall. The transformation from the ghost town he had experienced in February and March to a bustling metropolis continued to astound him. Whiling away the time seemed to be a very easy thing to do and by 4pm 45 hours into a fast he decided it was time to head the 6 miles back to the apartment to prepare some food for the evening. On his way home, he kept overtaking a girl on a bike who would then overtake him and it was apparent they were on a similar trajectory. They laughed about the continual meeting at junctions and she ordered ‘follow me‘ as she started to dodge the cars And motor bikes and lead him on an exhilarating ride through the traffic. They eventually parted company and he stopped to buy an Ovaltine Powerball Cake for Peng before going home feeling quite weak from the journey and the sun to make his smoothie supper. It was cold and smooth and just what he needed. His evening was spent watching the touching film Maudie based on the true story of an artist. Plans to head for Nanjing at the end of the month and then Further afield to Shanghai and Hangzhou in June were mulled over and his exploration of China was well and truly underway.


  1. What a lovely day. Great sights and loved the tale of repeatedly meeting up with the girl on the motorbike and then darting through the traffic. Made me smile.
    My daughter just came into my study, after spending the evening watching plays at The National on-line, as I was reading your blog and watching the video, and she said ‘Oh is that that whacky man in China’..!

  2. What a day! That sounds like a memorable one. Is social distancing now disappearing there? Exciting to think it’s a possibility…

  3. Sounds like you had a good day, making friends and playing with traffic! The displays at the Observatory were amazing, so much detail on the equipment xxx

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