OUR TRIP TO CHINA
|The pages presented on the INDEX page are not in chronological
order. I tried to create themes that integrated Chinese history into the
images, people and experiences that we shared with our guides and
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After reading this introduction, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK WHICH
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I have spent a lot of years and miles looking at my country.
Whether walking the streets of New York, inspecting the
monuments of Washington D.C., wintering in Wisconsin,
soaking up the French Quarter in New Orleans, enthralled with
mountains in Colorado or basking in the warmth of California
springtime, there is an identifiable change of pace, culture, and
accent in every transition. Each location has a place in our
national history, a tale that goes back 230 years in its political
form and 400 years in its cultural transition from England and
Now imagine taking a tour of China, a country geographically as
large as the United States, percolating now with the industrial
and technological change found in America during the late 19th
century, equaling the military/financial weaponry we developed
in the 20th century and sharing with us the breathtaking edge of
the current technological rewiring of the world.
China even holds some similar physical characteristics to the
U.S: mountains shed thrashing rivers; large desert shallows
cover many states; coastal ports and mountain minerals feed its
industry and trade; populations stashed in eastern flatlands
create huge feeding/management issues; a culture of work
produces enormous product amidst challenging quality.
Americans cast themselves into the history of the world after
1865 and have led it since 1920. When one scratches the story
a bit, one can see that our journey was always accompanied by
China. Whether it was missionary placements, economic trade
relations, railroad construction, defense of Chinese territory or
educational investments in one another, China has been a part
of our national experience.
Now, in 2009, China is more partner than apprentice, more
leader than loser. Comfortably placed in world affairs, it is
inextricably linked to the United States’ future and well being.
What can one see in China in just 11 days that would give a
tourist/observer an authentic feeling for its cultural/political
pairing with the United States? Can a fair series of linkages to
both its history and its future, give us an appreciation of its
many cultural quirks and its contemporary construct.
In America, could we learn about ourselves with a trip to just
four cities: New York, Washington D.C., and a river cruise from
St. Louis to New Orleans? Well, maybe not everything, but with
a little preparation, we could learn a lot, remembering that St.
Louis is the launching pad of the history of western exploration
Our choice was a guided tour of Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, a
cruise down the Yangtze River and a port of call in Shanghai.
The first three cities have been capitals of China while Shanghai
represents the shared Chinese/American search for an Open
Door, recently characterized by Premier Wen Jaibao as a
parting of the Bamboo Curtain. That is a very nicely phrased
symbolic reversal of who controls China.
In each city we were able to sample deeply significant remnants
of China’s history, to touch and feel its governance as it
changed and refocused its energies through the centuries. We
were in it. Our looking, our dining, our walking, our gazing and
our quiet thoughts let us get a glimpse of a very old, but once
again, a new nation.
Dynastic imprints complemented modern construction and
water projects; relics found new life in the admiration of fresh
crowds; merchants were enlivened by our presence and we with
theirs as we mingled with and enjoyed street crowds, vendors,
shoppers, families with children (especially male babies), and
other tourists, most of them from other parts of China.
Whether offering a respectful silence in listening to a lady
describe her home in a hutong, gesturing kindly to a man who
could peddle our bike-rickshaw, quietly absorbing the
atmosphere of a Buddhist temple, standing in awe atop the
Great Wall, astounded at the techniques of making silk clothing
or walking in quiet admiration among the Terra Cotta Warriors,
we found in each a new perspective on China.
Finally, in body language, people watching, or commercial
exchange one simply FELT the energy and tensile strength
found in China’s modern version of change. It is a powerful,
pushy (literally) society, numbering 1.3 billion, a figure 4 times
larger than the population of the United States, and it has
placed itself on the road to a growth and development that has
reclaimed its place as one of the world’s most significant
There is a new kid on the block.