It is still dark when Amy and Mr. Su retrieve us from our hotel and start us on the long journey back to the US from China. I am happy to be going home, as I was terribly homesick during much of the trip. On the other hand, I am sad to be leaving, because there was so much that I wanted to see and do that there simply was not enough time for.
More time in Shanghai, more time in Yunnan, definitely more hiking in Yunnan, more time at the Great Wall, more massages, more hot springs, more temples (while we visited many Buddhist temples and a mosque, we did not see any Taoist ones or Christian churches), more museums, more time in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, more time to visit with the Chinese people, more tea, more art, more Chinese roofs. Every place we visited, I felt as if I needed at least twice as much time. And we didn’t go to Hong Kong, or Guangzhou or Yan’an, or any of the places associated with Chairman Mao.
And I will probably never go back because it’s so far to travel and it’s so hard to function in China if you can’t speak and read the language.
I looked out the window of our 767 as the land fell away. As we climbed over the mountains, I searched for one final glimpse of the Great Wall snaking away on the borders below us. Vision eluded me, but I know it was there, riding along the ridgelines, eternal, watchful. ready.
China is a formidable country, and it owns a part of me after my time there. There’s a lot we can learn. They’re not perfect, but they do a lot of things better than we do – right now anyway. I will watch and wait, and see how they are in ten years. They are learning all of the wrong things from the West. I hope they can maintain those things that make China unique and magical. If I ever return, will I need to hike the High Road at Tiger Leaping Gorge to experience the vast wonder of the Gorge, or will it be filled with roads and guest houses along those roads, so that no one hikes any more? If I ever return, will the Guanxi farms lie fallow because all the people have gone to the cities? If I ever return, will I visit a massive tower city filled with people, children, schools, merchants; or will the tower cities be falling to ruin, with no one to care for them or live in them? If I ever return, will internal air and rail travel still be wonderful, easy and cheap?
Lots of questions, all of which got put aside, when my flight from Chicago to Hartford was cancelled after we had spent 14 or 16 hours in transit from Beijing. In the end we abandoned the airlines and fled to home on Amtrak, only to be delayed again, by some would-be terrorists being captured in Boston.
A great journey. More to come. . .