Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade
winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover!
( Mark Twain )
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
FINAL THOUGHTS--OUR WONDERFUL MONTH IN CHINA
We've had a great time in China--it's a fascinating and beautiful country. As we sit at the airport waiting to board our flight home, here are a few of my parting thoughts.
THINGS I LOVED ABOUT CHINA:
-The people. I had read a few travel articles and travel forum posts about the Chinese being very reserved and not overly friendly. Our experience was just the opposite! We felt very welcome in China; the Chinese were friendly, helpful and kind.
-Beautiful old buildings, temples, pagodas and palaces. Interesting architecture, beautiful details. I love the ancientness ( is that a word?) of China's long history.
-Stunningly beautiful gardens. Cool, calm green oasis of peace & serenity in the middle of bustling big cities. The parks and gardens we visited were well used by the locals--families enjoying a walk in the park, friends playing cards, even singing and dancing. Tai-Chi every morning in the park was fun to watch!
-Our guides! We lucked out with the guides we chose--they were all wonderful! We learned so much from them and really enjoyed their company. They each added something special to our trip, and I wish we didn't have to say goodbye.
-The food! I had really been looking forward to eating Chinese food every day. While we did have some good meals, most often we found that the food was just too greasy for us. Even steamed vegetables were loaded with oil. When we travel we enjoy eating local street food, but in most places we visited in China it was not very appetizing and we had serious reservations about "food hygiene" issues. We were not bothered by the unusual (to us) food items such as snake, donkey meat, dog meat, pig feet, chicken feet and various "innards"; in fact I appreciate that nothing is wasted! And YES, we really ate fried scorpions!
-In some of the smaller, more rural locations we were quite the curiosity! We were often the only non-Asian tourists, and it was an interesting experience being on the other end of the camera lens.
THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE:
-The beautiful children with their sweet, shy smiles. Parents are very proud of their babies and children, and seemed delighted when we talked to them. We had lovely conversations with some young grade and middle schoolers, and I played some sweet games of peek-a-boo!
-"Lost in Translation" signs--sometimes funny, sometimes puzzling. A few we couldn't even figure out!
-Cute little baby bottoms. The Chinese have different ideas about potty training their babies. They start very young, dressing the babies as young as 6 months in cute little "split crotch" bottoms with no diaper. They somehow know when their baby has to potty, and they then just hold them in a squatting position over the sidewalk, street, grass or dirt; no toilet necessary--anywhere will do! They don't fill up their landfills with disposable diapers--that's a good thing. Lots of cute little baby bums on display!
-Funny menu translations! There were some hilarious "lost in translations" on menus. I've done a separate blog entry with pictures!
THINGS I WON'T MISS!
-Public toilets--you should all be VERY thankful that I don't have "smell-a-vision" feature. 'Nuff said!
-Squat toilets--the norm in China. A little hard to manage with a camera, coat, purse, etc. Don't ask me how I learned NOT to leave my sunglasses perched on top of my head while using a squat toilet. Really---you just don't want to know!
-The Great Firewall of China--internet censorship. It seemed quite odd to not be able to look up certain facts and figures (such as the date and details of the Tiananmen Square "incident". If I had used the words "Tiananmen Square Massacre" I would NOT have been able to access my alternate blog at all while in China! If the Chinese government doesn't want you to read about it--the page just won't load. As it was--I couldn't post or access this, my regular blog. Instead, I used another blog without the word "blog" in the address/title! No Facebook, no Twitter, no Google blogs. Oh, how I love and appreciate the freedoms we have in America. Never, ever take them for granted!
-Crazy traffic and drivers. We felt like we'd cheated death each time we crossed a street without getting run over! I did get run into by a bike. Pedestrians have absolutely no right of way. A red light is just maybe, possibly (but only if they feel like it), a small suggestion to slow down--or NOT. Sidewalks are not for walking, they are for parking, riding bikes, driving scooters and cars. It's a free-for-all!
-The crowds of people! Especially the pushy, shoving kind.
All in all, it was a wonderful 4 1/2 weeks in China. Would we come back? I would come back to visit other areas of China--especially some more of the beautiful southern China countryside and Tibet. Will we ever come back? Probably not--it's a big world we live in, and these two travelers want to see it all!
So what's next for The Travelin' Lundburys? We're thinking Poland. Germany, Austria and Czech Republic this fall. Stay tuned..............