The Chinese government has a tight reign on their people in certain ways. For example, I haven’t been able to use Facebook since entering their country. They have also blocked silly avenues like twitter. Some places don’t even allow for blogs. I’m at a western cafe in Kunming. This city has been a base for some of my travels. And as I was warned, even with strict planning, usually things change in China. We were set to spend most of this last week in the smaller city of Mangshi but ended up in Lijiang in the middle of Tiger Leaping Gorge for a couple of days. And we are only in Kunming long enough to catch a train to Guilin this evening where the remainder of our time will be spent before catching a train back to Shanghai to return to the States.
The beauty of the Jade Dragon Mountain range where Tiger Leaping Gorge is found should be comparable to the glory of the Grand Canyon. We left our luggage and took a van into the range before hiking for a few hours to the Tea Horse Guest House where we were surrounded by fifteen or so Brits engaging in a month long Kung Fu retreat. We feasted and rested instead as we looked out on the vast glory of the place we were in. And to arise and look out at these mountains as the sun rose was awe-inspiring. We hiked for a few more hours before riding a van around the cliffs back to Old Town. This renovated, historic village is a tourist hub for mostly the Chinese with some westerners intermingled. This Old Town has over 700 places to stay with hundreds of shops for the day and countless dance parties and live musicians that come alive at nights. It was wonderful to go from such natural beauty to such man-made beauty in just a few hours.
So those are some of the highlights, some of the joys of our experience thus far while traveling. The not-so-pretty part of traveling in China is, well; traveling. I was unfamiliar with the “sleeper” bus before my journey here. But now I am well-aquainted. They pack folks in to these tiny beds for overnight trips. There is barely enough room to move. I learned that I am more claustrophobic than I thought, and that I don’t sleep well on “sleeper” buses. I could mention that one bus stopped fourteen times. We picked up furniture and rice. We delivered them. There were drug checks, oil checks, maybe washer fluid checks. Only God knows. Some things don’t translate. I can’t do justice to the mixed-emotions I have for these inbetween transporters. Nevertheless we have arrived to each destination relatively safe and unharmed. And it doesn’t stop us from continuing to travel.
My apologies for not writing more often. I desire to write about once a week, but China slows that process down. My mind is sifting through many thoughts, and leaving home is an interesting thing as I suspected. My heart longs for Atlanta and the people there. It’s strange how being in foreign cities solidify my love for my place on the map on the other side of the globe. Traveling is worth the experiences, but rootedness is rich and fruitful for me, especially where there is such fertile soil to be had in my city. I image that is probably true for the most of us. If you get a moment to slow down, step back outside of your busyness and view the city as if you are half-way around the world. Atlanta is pretty grand, and it’s groaning for life to be had.