Wednesday, October 11, 2006

my trip

It's pretty late here, and I need to be getting to bed, but while the New York Times articles about North Korea are loading, I should be able to give you a brief description of my trip. Sorry it's taken so long to write this, but as I'm sure you know, it's much easier to go somewhere than it is to describe a trip in words.

I went with my friend Mr. Shi, my teacher Mr. Shen and his wife to Mr. Shi's hometown, Qingyang, in nearby Gansu province. We left early Sunday morning on what was supposed to be a 4 or 5 hour bus ride, but it ended up taking 8 because it was a holiday (National Day) and there were many people on the road, and to make matters worse, the road was closed at one point so we had to double back and take an alternate route. Nonetheless, we arrived without any real problems just in time for dinner on Sunday at Mr. Shi's family's house. We had a hot pot, a common type of fancier meal here. The basic idea is that in the middle of the table there's a pot that's, well, hot (usually done with an electric hotplate underneath it) and filled with some sort of broth or soup-like liquid. You then place uncooked food into the pot and take it out and eat it when it's cooked. The flavors all mix together, and you can have your food cooked as long as you want since you're the one who puts it in and takes it out. It works great if you know how to use chopsticks, but I sometimes had difficulty with soft food breaking when I tried to take it out, such as potato noodles or tofu.

After dinner we went into downtown to a trade fair that was selling clothes and other items from all over the country, but nothing that really interested me. Then we went to a dance hall that reminded me of the past, though of course I've never really been to the past. Everyone was dancing in couples, some even waltzing, to music of all tempos played on a synthesizer. Certainly not my kind of dancing or music, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.

The following day we all went to a nearby Taoist temple, which was a very nice place to walk around. I think most of the buildings have been restored and were not original, but it was still nice to see more or less the design of the temple. I'll put some photos here in the next day or two so you can see it too. The best part of the temple, though, was the peaceful setting, which I'm not really sure I was able to capture on "film." It was, though, the highlight of the trip for
me. Just wandering around there seemed like the ideal way to spend a sunny fall afternoon.

The next day was our last there, and we left around 4 in the afternoon. Before that, though, we attended part of a wedding. Here, the wedding begins at the bride's family's house with lots of food. The party then travels to the groom's family's place for some sort of ceremony or traditional activities followed by even more food. We just went to the first part at the bride's house, and since my friends didn't really know the family that well, we basically just ate and
talked with the people at our table a bit and then left. It was still nice to see a bit of what a Chinese wedding is like, and I did see the bride, dressed in white.

The bus ride back was only about 6 or 7 hours, since the road was still closed but generally less crowded. It's nice to be back here in Xianyang, but going away made me realize how polluted the air here is. It was very bad when we first go back since the farmers nearby were burning the dead corn stalks in the fields. Thankfully the smoke that enveloped the city cleared in a few days, and I haven't had any difficulty breathing. That first day back, though, was pretty amazingly smoky, with visibilty down to about 2 blocks, and burning eyes after being outside for too long. I opted to stay in most of the day.

Well now I need to read about the aftermath of North Korea's nuclear test and then get to bed since I have Chinese class bright and early tomorrow. Enjoy your day!

1 comment:

Carl Brasic said...

2 blocks of visibility from burning corn? And this is from farmers? Man, I'm glad that urbana farmers don't do that.