You have welcomed us at a most auspicious time.
Your stride is long, your steps are slow.
Your arms swing, sometimes wildly, as you move.
We share your pain of Yushu.
There are no more Emperors, yet you have many dragons.
Teach them to be respected instead of feared.
You have millions to command.
China welcomed another group of American businesspeople. The price was too good to pass up. So I didn’t. They flew us on Air China. They showed us four cities, the Great Wall, palaces, and a Buddhist Temple. We saw what they wanted us to see including factories and factory stores. Jade. Pearls. Cloisonné. Silk. Silk Rugs. We were expected to Ooh and Aw and spend lots of money. We did. We were also expected to become China’s best salesmen, ready to deliver glowing generalities. I am happy to cooperate:
The Great Wall is amazing.
The gardens of Suzhou are beautifull
The food was fine, the people friendly.
Beth Bryan was ticked because they didn’t take me to the new dam project where so many people have been displaced. Well of course they didn’t. The Chinese showed us what they wanted us to see. Besides, most of my readers live in Cuyahoga County. All governments displace people.
I took close to 500 pictures. Some will be posted on this blog and some will appear on Facebook. You will have to come to my office to be bored with all of them. I brought back silk, jade, and other souvenirs. I strongly recommend this trip for everyone.
This past Sunday’s Plain Dealer included three articles that originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press while I was gone. Travel editor, Ellen Creager took a similar trip. She went to the same places and saw most of the same sites. Feel free to check out her travelogue. My focus is slightly different.
There are 9,999 rooms in the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was a palace right in Beijing, the northern capital. 9,999. Why? 9 is a royal number. I guess 99,999 would have seemed excessive.
The Emperors had unlimited wealth, manpower, and land. The Forbidden City, a maze of spectacular architecture and huge open squares, is filled with the efforts of others, the unthanked Chinese who slaved for rulers whose greed knew no bounds. Silk. Pottery. Impressive sculptures. What did I enjoy of my couple of hours within the walled city? I loved watching the faces of the Chinese tourists and children surveying the accomplishments of their ancestors, the people who constructed these buildings and laid the bricks in those squares.
The Summer Palace is only a few miles away. Located on Kumming Lake, the Summer Palace was esthetically more pleasing with its ornate Long Corridor and traditional gardens. We were treated to stories of handmaidens collecting dew, eunuchs, and all of the other trappings of uncontrolled wealth and greed. It was raining that day. The sea of Chinese with their brightly colored umbrellas overwhelmed us. We saw pretty buildings. They saw their history. What was simply ornate and colorful to us had a deep meaning and purpose to them. Did they see the results of centuries of exploitation or the skill of their ancestors who toiled in hardship? My guess is both.
I mention the Chinese because they made the trip worthwhile. About twelve years ago I visited the ancient city of Tulum just south of Cancun. There were cool buildings that reflected an advanced culture. I marveled at their construction. We could only guess as to what life had been like 800, 900 years ago in the place we were standing. But we were visitors. We had no ownership. Our guides could only guess. My trip to China was completely different and that much more special.