Return to China

Please leave this site now and go to this site to read this post.

Lisa and I will be traveling through China for the next couple of weeks, leaving Beijing on Saturday. Reading about why she’s here is a beautiful story.

In the meantime, if any of you will be around the following places and want to meet up for coffee or a meal please send me an email:

Beijing
Kunming
Chongqing
Chengdu
Xian
Guangzhou
Shanghai

(The last two stops are for business, just me.)

Repeat: Read this post. Awesome. Too good for a blog.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

Very nice story by Lisa. Can’t wait to read the zillions of interesting stories and articles you both will bring back from this journey.

I wish you both a safe and great trip around China.

February 11, 2009 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

Will you be visiting any of those places for the first time, or revisiting to see something you’ve missed? Either way, have a nice time and I hope the weather stays fair.

February 12, 2009 @ 3:13 am | Comment

Rich – pull up for a beer and a chin wag in Shanghai if you have time – W

February 12, 2009 @ 4:56 am | Comment

As I wrote on Lisa’s wite, Kungming is awash in change and congestion, especially from automobile traffic. They have been adding an average of 550 cars per day to the streets for the last year and a half. The highway to Shilin is smooth and fast. The little village near Shilin, Lunan has some of the best rubing (goat cheese) I’ve ever tasted. Don’t miss it!

Safe travels to you both.

February 12, 2009 @ 5:31 am | Comment

Not, I herd about the congestion in Kunming and am not looking forward to it. But I loved that city when I was there is 2004 and hope it hasn’t been completely ruined.

Raj, I’ve never been to Chongqing or Chengdu, the others I’ve visited briefly. I’ll probably get to some of other new places along the way.

February 12, 2009 @ 11:47 am | Comment

Bobby, please use the open thread for things that are off-topic. Thanks.

February 12, 2009 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

Raj, I’ve never been to Chongqing or Chengdu…

Ah, it’s always good to visit new places even if it’s in a country you’ve already spent a lot of time in. Hope you have enough time to see all the good stuff.

February 12, 2009 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

If anyone has recommendations about places to see in Chongqing and Chengdu, please feel free to let us know.

February 12, 2009 @ 6:54 pm | Comment

Richard,

Thanks for that referral to Lisa’s blog. I would have hated to have missed that story. I believe I’m going through some fit of China nostalgia myself these days, but that’s another thing. Anyway, loved the story.

If by the time you get to Chengdu you feel you could use some relief from the bustling citylife, go out to Songpan, about halfway between Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou (if you have time to make it that far out, definitely worth it. Be sure to get off the busses inside the reserve and walk. Heaven !) In Songpan, at least till couple of years ago, you had these 2 local companies organizing horsetrekkings in the surrounding areas. If there’s anything to set your mind free from all other worldly concerns, this is it. The service was amazing in it’s simplicity (ever eaten with chopsticks from freshly cut treebranches ?), the horses are as tame as they come and the surrounding nature is as beautiful as it gets. Wildly recommended … if it still exists.

February 12, 2009 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

Lao Lu, sounds too good to be true. We’ll see if we have the time. I wonder if they have WiFi on the horse trails….

February 12, 2009 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

The Dazu rock carvings are a trip out of Chongqing if you have the time – couple of hours on the bus.

February 13, 2009 @ 3:16 am | Comment

Songpan has a brewery making Tibetan style rye beer. Think it is based on rye anyway. It’s odd but worth a try if you are into that type of thing. Minimal carbonation and a sweet and earthy taste. Reminded me a little of mead.

Chengdu has a very nice Daoist temple (青羊宮?). It’s located somewhere in the north-west corner of town. One of the nicer temples I’ve visited in China.

The tea shops in Chengdu are worth a look. The locals seem more friendly than in most places and you could end up having some interesting conversations. The little neighborhood joints are more just relaxed and unpretentious places to hang out than ‘the real old China’ crap they get touted as.

The women in Chengdu are rather special (better than Chongqing I thought) but probably not your thing.

In Chongqing I wouldn’t miss the Flying Tiger’s Museum and General Stillwell’s residence (basically beside each other), or Chiang Kai-shek’s residence at Nan Shan (outside the center of town and across the river). CKS’s place has nice parks even if you don’t like the history stuff.

Finally, 秦妈火锅 is a nice hotpot restaurant located on the riverside across from the center of town. I’m no expert but it was probably the best hotpot I’ve had. Cheap too.

February 13, 2009 @ 1:42 pm | Comment

Songpan sounds great! I’ve been to Chengdu pretty recently, haven’t been to Chongqing since 1980. I like Chengdu a lot. Really enjoyed Qingchengshan and of course the Panda reserve…

February 13, 2009 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

I agree with Raj about Dazu. It’s still a relatively serene, beautiful place with amazing rock carvings right into the hillside. Just don’t eat at the gauntlet of restaurants you have to walk through to get to the carvings (with the exception of the absolutely bare bones dumpling place!).

February 13, 2009 @ 2:59 pm | Comment

Oh and in Kunming, don’t miss the real wholesale flower market about 20 kilometers south of the city. The No. 12 bus will get you within a kilometer or so. Get there early, 7:00 AM, for the main activity of hundreds of thousands of lilies, roses and carnations changing hands. The colors and fragrances are not to be missed.

February 13, 2009 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

After the ordeal of purchasing Roy’s computer monitor was finally over, we were exhausted and on our way to the coach station to go back home. As I stepped into the subway train, which will take us to the coach station, a strong reek hit my nose. There were no extra seats, so I had to stand in the train. In front of me was a family of migrant workers. They had their luggage scattered on the train floor. It was obvious that the unpleasant smell come from one of the luggage. Although the train was full, there was a gap between the other passengers and the migrant family. The lady sitting to my left had her index finger covering her nostrils; her face showed strong opposition of these foreign workers ruining her day in the subway. Some of the other passengers either had their nostrils covered or had their back turned, but all of them kept their distance.
A sense of sympathy filled my heart. To show that I didn’t mind the smell and the lowly social status of the migrant family, I didn’t cover my nostrils with my index finger, i didn’t turn my back and i even decided not to keep the distance as the other passengers did in an obvious stand to show that the family’s welcome had expired in Guangzhou and they should go back home.
I guessed the family caught onto my body languages. They gave me a few curious glances. Standing right in front of me was the youngest of the family, to me she looks 17. She had on a worn out blue jeans; the wash of the jeans was almost gone. The sweater she had on was orange. It was not meant to be fashionable. The sole purpose of her orange sweater was to keep warmth. Her hair was clumsy and unbrushed. The greasy appearance of her otherwise beautiful long black hair tells me that her hair hasn’t been washed for days. She has a slender beautiful face and a dark complexion which can immediately categorized her as a peasant girl. I didn’t know why. But when i saw her, i wanted to call her Melissa.
Melissa also noticed my body languages. She took so many shy glances at me, that i can almost time her next upcoming glance. After a while, it was clear to me that Melissa wanted to make eye contact with me. The eye contact that she wanted doesn’t represent a romantic affair, but rather she wanted it to represent an acknowledgment of her human dignity. Being a migrant worker is not a crime or a disease, but everyone in the train is treating her family as if they had committed a crime. As if these migrant workers were disease. After their hard work of building up a beautiful Chinese city was over, the city dwellers want them to be hidden.
Melissa wanted me to acknowledge her. She wanted me to tell her that its okay you belong here just like everyone else. No one is better than you; we are equals. To tell her that, all i had to do was to make a simple eye contact with her. It would at least make her day. Then, i noticed it wasn’t that easy. What if the judgmental passengers made a negative opinion of me? I’ve already gone out of my way to show that i didn’t mind them. Isn’t that enough? Why do i have to further acknowledge them?
As the announcer informed us that the next stop would be the coach station, I came up with a plan. I will do this step by step. i would catch her next glance with a smile, and then if i mustered enough courage i would catch her eyes with mine.
I made a half smile when her glance met my face. Through my peripheral vision, i can see Melissa was smiling back at me. The fear of this little disgraceful act would be exposed by the passengers overwhelmed me. I quickly hide my smile by putting the tip of my tongue between my lips and licked my upper lip to make it seem that i wasn’t really smiling at her at all. I acted as if i was merely licking my upper lip. I didn’t muster enough courage. i didn’t look into Melissa’s eyes.
After that little act, the glances stopped. Melissa had her eyes on the floor. As the train come to a slow stop, She left up her right hand and used her index finger to ripe her eyes as if sands had just gotten into them. My heart was heavy. I am Brutus when Caesar was stabbed. I am Judas at the last supper. I just hope that Melissa has the Christ in her to forgive me.

February 13, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

yo my friend and I are cruising the blogs noticed your CQ post. We are out here, give us an email before you come to town and we’ll grab a bite. Let us know when you’re around and how to contact,

welcoming you to the chonx,

skydiggity and kg

February 15, 2009 @ 10:16 pm | Comment

Sky, will do, thanks.

February 16, 2009 @ 1:24 am | Comment

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