Chinese Fairytale

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I’m kind of a random person, and I enjoy following my train of thought wherever it wishes to take me. I had a dream last night about Brazil and some of the people I met there. I guess this was causing my mind to wander and led me to think about China. Today I was remembering climbing the Great Wall.

A Mini Chinese Fairytale

This is nothing like Mulan.

Obviously, the ancient Chinese had no idea how to build even stairs. These jagged pieces of rock are the most difficult steps I’ve ever traversed. Some are so close together it’s like climbing a consistent incline. Others are more like mountain climbing, having to hoist oneself up to the next level. After an hour of this, I am pouring sweat. And we didn’t even go up the “more difficult” side of the Wall.

It is July in China, 2002, somewhere between Beijing and the Emperor’s summer abode at Chengde. The palace was magnificent, we saw an incredible temple, but this is the piece de resistance, of course. One of the wonders of the world. And all I remember is those stairs. Being sweaty. And the Idiot we brought from Richmond who wanted to take a picture with his American flag on the stinking Great Wall of China. Hello, has he never heard of Communism? Seen the men with giant guns everywhere? Heard of Tiananmen Square and even more recent shootings at Mao’s memorial? But he did it. I have pictures to prove it.

Back to the Future

The six weeks I spent in China were so enlightening and strange. It was my first experience being away from church for any length of time (and only experience ever, even since then). I roomed with a blonde Jewish girl, and we had the best conversations about Judaism and Christianity and everything else in life. She became a very sweet friend throughout college, and she actually lives in China now doing business. During the time we were there, Danny and I got much closer, between hitting the Chinese karaoke bars, trying to order food at the Red Lantern restaurant, and yelling at taxi drivers as we traveled all over Beijing (including the sixteen trips to the garment district as they made my qipao dress).

I could go on and on with China stories, but I am sure if anyone reads this, they probably would be less than interesting! Sweet memories, though. I sometimes have a hard time believing I am the same person who bartered at Beijing markets, or saw the tsunami memorial in Thailand, or even discoursed with Arabs in the streets of Brazil, even though that’s been only a few months. I feel like a different person in my life here, a much more boring person! I guess the travel bug is deeply embedded in me and is not easily forgotten.

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