Alarm was set to wake me upat 3:30am. For some reason I woke upat 3:21am. I feel like this happens to me a lot. Somehow I have an internal clock that makes me aware. Perhaps it’s a causality that feels true, but maybe it’s only my perception.
Showered, shaved , and at the school before 4:00am. Students were beginning to trickle in at the front gate, but the guards at the gate are never awake that early. I woke him up with some glass pounding and stationed a teacher at the gate to welcome students and parents into the school.
Of course it wasn’t a student that put us a bit behind, but another teacher that “hit every red light”. We left for the airport with 46 students fully accounted for around 4:40. The sun was up and staring me down through the window of tue bus. An unpleasant feeling getting blinded.
Another odd China thing. Bus drivers drive the bus. They NEVER help load or unload luggage.
We ran into some issues at the flight check in. A few students don’t have a Chinese ID card, but a special green card that sometimes they have an issue with in security situations. The card is fine, but it’s a coin toss if the guard who’s checking it understands what it is. At times if they don’t know, they will hand it back and just say you can’t pass. It’s not a matter of the card being okay. It’s a matter of different. They don’t understand different, so they say no and want you to go away.
I had it happen to me once last week arriving at Wuxi in the train station. When I went to exit the train station a guard had no idea what to make of my passport. He just told me no. It took a long time to find someone that understood what they had to do. It’s a matter of training. Whatever, I try to roll with it.
I ended up waiting with the last students to finally get a ticket and pass through security. We arrived at the gate with a few minutes to spare and I think we were the last ones to board the plane.
On the plane I got lucky and had an empty seat next to me. Given the incredibly tight seating it was a blessing. The average Chinese person doesn’t need the same room as the average American. There was a young lady that I communicated with a bit before we took off, but losing an internet connection meant I lost my translation app on my phone. She asked to take my picture as we were landing. Mark this one up as happy curiosity with regard to foreigner interaction. Her name was Gong Xiaomin. We shared some candy and gum back and forth. I wonder if she thinks all Americans walk around with a giant bag of assorted candy…
Off the plane. Into a bus. Loooonnnng ride into the middle of nowhere. Feels a lot like the Columbia River Basin but with higher hills and some snow covered mountains in the distance.
We arrived in the small town of Shiguzhen (Shigu) and had lunch. After lunch we had the opportunity to roam through the old market. Very cool. It was like a small town Fred Meyer or Walmart. They had everything you could imagine. Food. Clothing. Hardware.
The bridge we happened upon has a lot of history. One of our guides (Nombu) told us the story of people in Tibet making long journeys to Liming for tea. This bridge was the last thing they crossed to end their journey.
The details behind this story were fascinating. Because the people in Tibet are in such high elevations they can't grow fruits and vegetables. Because the journey used to take so long they couldn't transport these items. They relied on tea because it could be stored and transported easily. The Tibetan diet was almost entirely protein back then.
We arrived in the village of Liming and got to our hotels. The views are spectacular in all directions. Jaw dropping stuff.
We have two hotels. One for the boys and another for the girls. The courtyard in the boys hotel is very cool. The entire building is old dark wood including the ceilings. A very rustic feel.
Great dinner. Lots of local dishes.
The kids are spent, but that didn't prevent a group from playing some hoops after dinner.
I'm spent. Still another bed check for lights out at 10:00pm. Big adventures tomorrow...