Thursday, July 28, 2011

China: 5000 Years of History in 26 Days

gate by ahamiltongreenDear readers. Can you forgive my 30 days of silence? I can only offer the excuse that access to Blogger is blocked in China.

From July 1-26 I toured that massive country including Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai with a group of Chinese-born teenagers including my daughter Lia and her dear friend Jenny.

During the first half of the trip our days were managed by CTS (aka China Travel Service). We luxuriated in four star hotels and gorged on scrumptious multi-course banquets. Educated, diplomatic and well-connected tour guides shepherded us to the front of endless lines as we worked our way through the sights that represent major moments in Chinese history.

Our long but comfortable march took us through Tienanmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Great Wall, The Peking Opera School, The Song and Tang Dynasties, as well as art museums, shadow puppet shows, the terracotta warriors, traditional gardens, traditional foods, traditional shops, river towns and more.... all representing what seems like an endless stream of human activity and more than 5,000 years of Chinese history.

Between sights, we traveled on first rate tour buses with good sound systems and good air conditioning--the kind of buses that are never too hot or too cold, too loud or too soft. Together with  40 wonderful fellow traveler we scratched at the surface of a country that is too big to understand in the same way that the Grand Canyon is too deep to comprehend until you get on a mule and plunge the depths.

During the second half of the trip our accommodations changed. We stayed in a Chinese boarding school--think hard beds, bad food, gasping air conditioners and guarded gates to keep us in as much as to keep others out.  Uncomfortable?  Oh yeah.  But here we were invited to pass through a massive gates that both figuratively and literally guard the guts of China and here we began to reach a deeper level of understanding about what it means to be part of the complex ancient and at the same time all new behemoth of China rising.

I hope to work through my memories and photos with you over then next few days.  Take care and thanks for your patience.

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