When I lived in Beijing for a brief spell in the late Nineties I got into the habit of taking long walks around the city at night--not out of any particular interest in the nocturnal landscape so much as the fact that there was nothing else to do. Aside from the bluish neon glow of all-night noodle stands and a few gloomy underground nightclubs--which, for reasons I never fully understood, were all located on military installations and run by the People's Liberation Army--the city shut down with the sun. As darkness spread, the flood of life in the streets ebbed to a trickle and an oppressive hush descended, interrupted only by isolated groups of kids breaking curfew in the city's vast, empty boulevards. Beijing was, to steal a phrase from Yeats, no country for the young; something in the character of this sprawling, aggressively ugly place seemed almost antithetical to youth.... More >>>