Published: January 2nd 2011October 6th 2010
After saying bye to Lauren in Nanjing, I hopped on a train and went another hour east to meet my mom's friend Jia who works half of the time in the States and half of the time in Jiangyin, Jiangsu Province. Jia's empolyee Shihong met me in Wuxi and then together we took a bus to Jiangyin. I didn't take a lot of pictures and my tooth was killing me. It's hard to enjoy things when you are urgently needing a root canal. I hope I wasn't too much of a downer to Jia and all of her friends. They were super nice and showed me wonderful hospitality!
First we stopped by Jia's company for some lunch and then Jia's intern Huadong showed me around a nearby park. We got a great view of the Jiangyin Suspension Bridge. It crosses the Yangtze River (how English speakers got the word "Yangtze" from "Chang Jiang/长江" or "long river" I do not know) and is one of the longest bridges in China. Also there was a kind of Disney-esque rotating tower ride thing that gave us panoramic views of the city and surrounding scenery. We also saw some old World War II forts.
After that, we all went to dinner together and then went downtown to watch an epic laser/pyrotechnic water fountain and music show. Jia's apartment was really nice and she had a spare room set up for me.
The next day, we wandered around town and explored the library and the Jiangyin museum. Jiangyin has one of the highest GDP/capita in China. I really enjoyed the clean, uncrowded streets. There were so few people walking around town it seemed kind of eerie! Soon it was time to head back to Wuxi and catch my train back to Wuhan. Big thanks to Lauren, Jia, Shihong, Huadong and everyone else for making it a fun National Day holiday.
Lots of traveling = read lots of books. Some short reviews:
Country Roads by Peter Hessler - Thanks for sending it to me mom. Nice little windows into different kinds of life in modern rapidly changing China.
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - His words painted some incredible pictures. I think I only managed to get through the book because it was my only form of entertainment on a 40-hour train ride. Even translated from Spanish, the language
was gorgeous. However, the cyclical storyline and naming of characters made the plot drag so that turning the pages was more like staring at the same unchanging magical realism painting.
First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung - Picked up in a hostel. Embarrassingly, this is the first I had read about the Cambodian genocide. What is with American public schools teaching the American Revolution at least 4 times, but not one unit on Asian history! Anyway it was a horrifying, first-hand account of Ung's life under the Pol Pot regime. Written in simple language and an engrossing, quick read.
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - The content was heartbreaking and the plot moved quickly and kept me glued to the page. Also brought up some interesting political and philosophical points.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely - Cute short pieces from his research in behavioral economics. An quick, entertaining read.
My Life in France by Julia Child - Lovely! I like her spirit! Makes me want to go to France and eat.
Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt - Another entertaining piece based on academic research in economics, if you can get past the "oooh I am using economics to study something other than the stock market and I'm sooo novel" self-importance.
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder - Basically an introduction to western philosophy textbook framed by a silly story. The story was cute enough and it was nice to have little spurts of entertainment between the rambles of dead navel-gazing white men. I still think philosophy is boring, but cheers to Jostein Gaarder for making it as not-boring as possible.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera - I love how he picks apart and devours words from a variety of languages and talks about how language affects the way we think about things. Philosophical commentary on heavy vs. light, permanence vs. change. Takes us through the Soviet invasion of the Czech Republic. Moving plot and passionate love and relationship troubles!
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Always worth a re-read! Jack Kerouac must have had Fitzgerald's narrative structure in mind when he wrote "On the Road."
The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow - Probability and randomness for the layman. I guess I already knew the math, but still I (and evidently Paul Erdus as well!!!) have poor intuition for stuff like the Monty Hall Problem and apparent winning/losing "streaks."
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - A book about a crazy endurance race in Mexico and the Tarahumara Indians who are awesome runners. He wrote a New York Times article on the same topic. At the moment I am training to run farther and farther, so it was a fun story and awesome inspiration!