One morning during our recent month-long vacation, I was tidying up around our beach bungalow in a quiet Thai village while listening to my husband talking to a friend back in Canada over Skype. He was giving a blow-by-blow of our vacation to that point. First, he (my husband) put his back out and pinched a nerve just before we were to go on vacation. He had to bring a cane along so he could hobble through the airport. Over the following days, he gradually got better as we enjoyed the beauties of the city of Guilin and took a cruise on the Li River to see the famous karst mountains. Then, on our last day in Guilin, I came down with a mild fever.
We slogged on to Kunming, the city of Eternal Spring, and after a few days there, Ross caught what I had. Except that it settled in his lungs...
I've taught four semesters in China at a vocational institute, two in the fall and two in the spring. The usual pattern for me was to chug along, getting busier and more tired, and then catch a 'flu bug and have to drag myself through the final exams. This time, the 'flu obligingly held off until after final exams, and then passed itself on to my husband with a vengeance, so that although we are enjoying a care-free vacation, we are hacking and wheezing.
I have to think the pollution has something to do with the way our lungs are feeling. Frankly, the pollution in Zibo (and across all of northeast China) this past winter was as bad as we have ever seen it. Smog settled down on the city for day after day; some days you couldn't even see across the street. The filthy air kept us from wanting to get out on our bicycles, too, so we didn't get the exercise we should...
The trip to the Great Wall is the highlight of a trip to China for most people. Our trip to the Great Wall was, frankly, a bit of a disappointment because it was a foggy day. We couldn't see the wall undulating over the hills to the far horizons, couldn't imagine mongol hordes sweeping down from the north, couldn't comprehend with our own eyes the vast scale of the thing.
We took a cable car to get to the Wall.
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of my school and my colleagues, I got some leave time from teaching this past semester when our oldest son Gus came to China for a visit. We were waiting for the right time to do the Big Tourist Thing here in China. Although I've lived here for close to two years, I hadn't seen the Great Wall nor Tiananmen Square, nor the Forbidden City. We didn't want to go during the worst heat of the summer, nor during the crazy crush of the Chinese national holidays (when the mad migration is called "People Mountain People Sea"). So hurray - moderate fall weather, (but with the ever-present pollution haze), smaller crowds, and the chance to see China through the eyes of an intelligent and perceptive newcomer, namely our son.
I've mentioned this visit in a few previous posts but there are a lot more pictures and good memories, so here goes....
About the author:
I blog about my research into Jane Austen and her world, plus a few other interests. Welcome! My earlier posts (prior to June 2017) are about my time as a teacher of ESL in China (just click on "China" in the menu below). More about me here.
© Lona Manning 2023