I've been thinking about how to tell you about our trip to China. I'm stumped, as this trip has changed me in ways I won't be able to articulate for a long time. It's something about the way I now view the world and the people on the other side of it. Something about a clearer understanding of how history impacts our lives today. Something about moving out of my comfort zone to try new things, to go new places, to experience different cultures. And something about what it means to be a family. I can't yet describe to you what changed for me 8000 miles away from Farm Dover, because I don't yet understand it myself.
The idea for a trip to China happened last August when Jack announced that he was moving to Shenzhen, China for a year to teach English and American Culture to Chinese high schoolers who dream of coming to the United States for college. Ed and I wanted to visit Jack, but wanted to wait until he had set down roots in his new place. It took a while to figure out where we wanted to go and to determine logistics of a trip to a faraway country where we could neither speak the language nor read it.
On March 9, we flew to Hong Kong, which is the city just south of Jack's Shenzhen. While Jack worked during the day, we explored the city on our own from the old Wan Chai neighborhood to the markets on Kowloon Peninsula to a flower show at Victoria Park. Jack came over to meet us for dinner on our second night and then came back the next day for an afternoon visit to the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, followed by dinner at at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen.
|Hong Kong harbor and skyline. Photo taken from the Star Ferry.|
|Caught up with Jack. Hadn't seen him since last August.|
|Statues surronding the Big Buddha. It was so foggy, we couldn't see the top of the 100+ foot bronze Buddha.|
|One of the many Dafen Village artists.|
|Family reflexology session.|
|Jack's friend, Shoating, took us to Shenzhen's public library and a park.|
|After dinner with Jack's friends.|
|The fields were fallow, too early in the year to be planted, but stunning nevertheless.|
|A local specialty, which Ed had to try, of course.|
|I fell in love with these karst hills, which lined the banks of the Li River. |
This particular point was the inspiration for the engraving on the yuan bill.
After gettting off the boat, we strolled in Fuli Town, stopping for lunch and to tour a family-run paper fan workshop.
Then we were off to Yangshuo, where at dusk, we watched a fisherman partner with a cormorant to catch small fish. We even gave it a try ourselves. (I think I'll stick to bass fishing.)
|My fishing partner.|
The next morning we hiked to the top of Moon Hill, which I'm pretty sure was really a mountain. We were so proud of ourselves, until we saw a little elderly woman round the last bend at a fair clip. She climbs up every day carrying a cooler full of cold bottled water to sell to the thirsty tourists.
|Every short Chinese woman wanted to have her photo taken with Ed. |
It's like they had never seen a tall handsome westerner
|We woke up to this view out our bedroom window.|
Our new guide, Huang, showed up at breakfast and life was once again, good. We headed out to a morning market in Xizhou Village where we saw everything from a medical team handing out polio vacination "candy" to children, to baskets of spices, vegetables, cones and blocks of brown sugar, small fishes, and even chicken feet. Nothing I like more than to wander around a food market.
We next visited a family-run tie-dye workshop where an old woman knotted cotton cloth that was then dipped into homemade indigo dye to create beautiful tablecloths and clothing. From there, we moved on to old town Dali where Huang began an on-going discussion of Buddism and Taoism.
The next morning we travelled from Dali to Lijiang, stopping on the way to explore a Shaxi Village, an important conduit connecting Tibet and Eastern China during the Tea and Horse Caravan Road era.
Jack joined us in Lijing, where we toured Buddist Monasteries, hiked in the Tiger Leaping Gorge and watched at dusk as the villagers danced to traditional music in the town square.
Three days later, we (sadly) said to goodbye once again to Jack. He headed back to his teaching job in Shenzhen and Ed and I headed to the final destination of our trip: Bangkok, Thailand.
We've now been home for three days, waking up at odd hours, being hungry or not hungry, taking mid-afternoon naps, and catching up with Maggie, Nate and Mary. At night, I dream of our trip and during the days, I find myself recalling the sights and sounds of our adventure. It's affecting me the way no other trip has. I'm looking for the understanding of it all.