Sleep could wait

After a 26-hour plane ride from Boston to Beijing, I was looking forward to a hot shower and a warm bed. But Monitor correspondent Sheila Tefft had other ideas when she and the bureau driver picked me up at the airport. "The Peking Opera is waiting for you," she said. "We have to go right now because they are going on tour tomorrow. And they are putting on a special rehearsal just for you."

No shower, no bed. Instead we arrived at a nondescript building on a back street and walked up a narrow stairway to a small, dingy auditorium. This was the home of the renowned Peking Opera?

Suddenly, the small and unimpressive room was transformed into a spectacle of loud gongs, drums, dragons, and acrobats in colorful costumes. It was a photographer's feast, and my droopiness from the long plane ride vanished. After the last "monkey person" had leaped and the final gong had sounded, we thanked the troupe and headed toward my hotel. At last.

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