While in Beijing I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Olympic plaza, scene of the 2008 Summer Olympics which remain one of the more fun things I’ve ever experienced. Being a tad plump from the holidays I have entered the New Year a devoted walker — taking inspiration in the poet William Wordsworth who logged an obsessive 15 miles a day in his beloved Lake District of England.
While at the Intercontinental I have taken the habit of a morning and evening constitutional down the broad promenade of the Olympic plaza. With the blue Water Cube and the magnificent Bird’s Nest stadium, the astonishing Blade Runner Media Center tower, it is a very cool place to take the air and stretch the legs.
In the mornings, while it is still dark, at the northern end of the plaza, there is a subway station and beyond it a man-made hill and park. There I stop, kick the wooden fence to mark my arrival, and turn for the walk back to the hotel.
The first morning I was very concerned by the distant sound of a man in distress. A terrifically loud “Ho-Ho-Ho!!!” noise that I can only describe as a human rooster. The single loud voice in the darkness was off-putting. Was the man deranged? Was he being beaten? Would he find and beat me?
I walked faster, bound for my destination but not wanting to cross paths with the Hooting Man.
Then a man behind me hooted. This was bad. I was surrounded. The asylum had been breached and the psychotics were loose. Then a lady cruised by in the darkness walking backwards and vigorously clapping her hands. Another man along windmilling his arms. He tilted back his head and let fly a lusty “HEY-HA-HEY-HA-HEY!”
I turned on my camera to record the sounds. Listen to the first few seconds. There is no picture as it was dark. This is a morning ritual on the Olympic Plaza — lung exercises. The ladies-who-walk in Cotuit should do this. It would endear them to the late sleepers on Main Street.