Written by Odynovo guest Rick Hotz, and published by Forrest Yu
For those of you following our China adventure, consider this my China Facebook Epilogue. Thanks to Lou-Ann for her daily late night efforts to provide a pictorial summary of the day. I just mooched her work.
After 330k steps across 240km (not to mention 2 bullet trains and 3 flights) our trek across China has come to an end. The trip was marvelous and insightful.
We did the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and other top attractions in Beijing
In a country bursting with people, where a city of 5 million is classified as "small", I was struck by the tranquility and breathtaking beauty of the countryside — the terraced rice fields of Longsheng; the Stone Forest at Kunming; cruising the Li River.
Stunning natural and man-made wonders in Guilin
The pace of growth; the engineering marvels; the construction activity and the deployment of technology are all amazing — 7 minutes from downtown Shanghai to the airport on the 430km/hr "maglev" train; peering out of the 88th floor of the Jinmao Tower (Hyatt Hotel) at a couple of buildings within a few hundred yards that dwarf it in size; an almost cashless/cardless society where payment for almost anything is done electronically.
Shanghai, a mix of modern and ancient sights
Kindness abounded. Even with a significant language barrier people were always friendly and helpful. Sometimes it was just a smile. How about the 80+ year old stooped, weathered woman who offered to help us climb the stairs at a monastery. So what if we got diapers delivered to our room when we called down for more toilet paper. Thank goodness for translation apps — both sides used them to bridge the communication gap.
Our guides went above and beyond. They taught us. They let us experience things. They went the extra mile to accommodate our interests and needs (forks!). We learned a lot. Thanks Odynovo Tours for steering us to places that were sometimes off the beaten, and providing us with the experts to understand the experience — https://www.odynovotours.com.
We went off the beaten path to China's southwest province of Yunan
China's desire for "having/saving face" manifests itself everywhere. People are proud of the progress the country has made in the last 70 years in the post-dynasties era. Everything is neat and tidy. Flowers abound. People sweep the sidewalks and streets. The garbage trucks chime out Disney's "It's a Small World" as they pick up trash.
China appears to be a country where people for the most part willingly accept the premise that for the good of society, the privacy and rights of the individual must play second fiddle. Cameras monitor everything. Police are ever-present. While Canadians think of ourselves as living in a melting pot of cultures, we are not uniquely challenged in that regard. Approximately 55 ethnic minorities (Bai, Yi, Dong, etc) along with 5 autonomous regions (Tibet etc) represent 8% of the population — approx. 120 million people! Consider the Mosuo people who live in a matriarchal society where women are the family leaders and the children are raised by their mother's side of the family — the biological father's role is minimal.
Xiexie (Thanks) China — for letting us get to know the other side.