Friday, March 31, 2006

The Long and Winding and Exhausting Road

Sweet daddy Confucious, I am still tired.

My body is drained, in fact, even after sleeping over 15 hours the other day (unheeded by inebriation; just good, sober sleep) I'm tired. I haven't done anything especially physically exerting, but it goes without saying I fell way behind healthy levels as I banged around China on bus, train, plane, and hovercraft.

My mental self doesnt stand much better. After my parents took off I didn't speak English for over 2 weeks. Only Chinese. Enough to make my head hurt. The converstations varied, but each time we had to rehash the same bland facts: I'm American. Yes, I can speak Chinese. Yes, Chinese is a hard language. Yes, I must be a very diligent student. No, not all Americans have blue eyes. Chinese food is delicious. No, you can't compare China and the US like that. Sometimes I got some interesting curveballs ("You know Chinese make the best noodles, right? And did you know your President slaughters innocent children for fun?") and some ridiculous claims ("I don't see why you Westerners think the Cold War was so important. We all know that if war erupted both the USA and the USSR would have lost to China.") that forced me to play dumb in lieu of starting a true international inncident.

Goes to show you just how tired I am. A well-rested Bill would have flushed these conversations dry.

But now we're back to the weekend: crunch time. The last weekend of non-travel burned this over-the-top cuteness into my mind forever:

I don't think my body or mind could handle such a display this weekend. It might just be too much. An overload.

But, as always, I press on. We'll get to the nitty gritty of the adventure in a few more days time, but an overview is warranted.

The quest began on February 27 with a "Bon Voyage/Don't Get Yourself Killed" party in Harbin. Early the next morning with au-pair wannabe in tow, a train was taken only a few hours south to ShenYang and the American Consulate. Business complete (and friend successfully invited to the United States- congrats Cecilia), further south to BeiJing and a reunion with the parents. BeiJing to the 1997 trips' favorite locale of HangZhou, then a quick flight to HongKong. There was a day trip to Macao and some border problems that resulted in a short-term deportation, but eventually I got back into Red China and made my wway to GuangZhou, then GuiLin. GuiLin was boarding point for a river cruise to YangShuo, and after getting my fill of river life I moved onto weird GuiYang, where I only sacrificed a day before moving ontowards ChengDu in SiChuan. Spending time first in the city, I eventually struck out for the Tibetan border again, this time taking in some beautiful hiking at JiuZhaiGou. Time started getting tight at this point, so hurrying back to ChengDu I jumped a train to BeiJing where i was lucky enough to meet up with my old friend (and 1997 traveling companion) Samantha Shih, though only for the afternoon. Finally back to Harbin. Spent.

Words will come later. For now: a few pictures.


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