Published: May 31st 2012May 31st 2012
I believe I have never waked up so early in my birthday day.
I started at 6 am, packing and doing check up from my hostel in X´ ian.
After I squeezed the front desk person with my needs of writing so many things on direction in paper in Chinese in order to survived get to Yan´ an and once there be able to visit the places I wanted to see . She put my big bad in storage for 2 days and I left to the train station, light for the first time with a small tiny backpack.
In the way I passed again in front of the main big square of Xian, in front of the communist administration offices, and I witnessed hundred of men and women doing body exercises to start their day healthy and in tune: this time was Tai chi, Chi Gong, Kung Fu, and some dance folks or saloon dances in pairs at 8 am in the morning.
The train to Yan´an took 3 hours and a half. I was in the middle of the 3 row seats. Seats that are straight like a door and there is not a way to recline them. In one side of me a young woman with headphones sang the whole time until she felt asleep on top of the train table in front of the hands of the guy that was playing loud games on his phone. On the other side I have a reserved tiny lady that also felt asleep, but she did it on my shoulder. Suddenly I felt her head on my body and I needed to stayed still for a while until she decided to move to the other side to continue in her sweet dreams.
The train had high air conditioner and I ended up putting a health mask on my mouth and nose. It felt weird but I got tired of being caught and sneeze in front of me and I decided to be careful, or obsessed, you name it. I looked probably as a female western version of Michael Jackson all covered and a crazy lunatic. But I do not want to get sick so I think this mask could be my ally for a while in crowed areas where there is a chorus of coughs.
I took the local bus from the station to the hotel and I arrived to a cute place. Taxis are very cheap and available, but I am scare of taking taxis I always prefer being among people in a bus than a taxi. Maybe for the bad reputation taxis have in Buenos Aires, I do not know, but in general I will not go in a taxi alone, less probably in a city I do not know, unless there is no other option.
Yanan is a nice town because the air is clean, the nature is around and it feels less dirty than other places. It is a modern town, but still has marks from old times. This city growth and got his actual existence regarding its role in during the revolution. It was the place where the revolution started, where the tactics against Japanese where decided, and where the Communist Party once it has the final victory decided to use as the central commands for some years until they moved to Beijing. Here everything known as China Popular Republic started. It is a town in the middle of mountains, a perfect place for the whole concept of guerrilla. It worked because it took place during the right time, in an era of wars and massive starvation problems, especially in this province. It has a river in the middle, called the Yellow River (which is dark polluted green rather than Yellow), and is full of little mosquitoes during the afternoon. Beyond the color of the river and its little bastard, that wants to bite you, the picture of this place is a charm little town. It has many bridges that cross it; I counted there were at least 3 big ones. There are some Buddhist Pagodas and other traditional China buildings among the mountains, but very few, most of the things are modern now. The modern that merge with some very old, and simple traditional earthy constructions on the mountains, they look like caves, and many times are like this, houses/caves. It used to be everything like that, so the guerrilla movement was able to really hide in the mountains’.
I arrived to my hotel that looks like a 4 stars place, by far the most expensive and nice place I booked so far here, but in this place, nobody speaks English. It was super difficult to get me understand. So my journey started messy.
The problem was that I wanted to pay with credit card as the people from ctrip.com (the local expedia) confirmed me I was able to do it. Well it seemed then, once there, that you could only pay with local
Chinese cards. So it comes the manager, then a woman from other section of the hotel, to add the 3 receptionists in the front desk but anybody was able to get, neither pronounce a world in English, nor resolve the issue. In the end, a cleaning lady arrived, and she was the only one able to get something in English. She even was able to understand that I needed to know the buses for the sights. This sounds incredible but true, I sure to God . It was one of those things that if you put in scrip a producer will tell you, it is a not credible scene, so even it is true you cannot use it. Then I was on the phone discussing with ctrip.com but it took a while to resolve it with them, so finally I went to an ATM, by the suggestion of the tiny of those women without uniform or a clear role in this party. The ATM was next to the hotel. But there was a sign on the screen on it saying it was out of order for the moment. The tiny woman took my hand and enters with me to the bank and with 2 shouts makes everybody got quite and frighten there as we were entering to the bank to robbed it. After her shouts, she looked at me as nothing has happened and smile, and she show me again the ATM, telling me in Chinese than now it will work. And she was right, after her orders the ATM worked.
As soon as I paid in cash, the ctrip.com people called me saying they have used my credit card for the payment, that they have heard my conversation recorded with the teller on the phone the day before and I was right. So the money I paid it will be a deposit but they should give it back tomorrow. I do not know but I felt that the idea of the Rights of consumer and Client satisfaction is pretty important thing here, and they are taking very serious this days. I was surprised.
I took new buses and I got to the center of commands and the museum of the revolution. I learnt a lot today. I wish there were more in English to read.
The place where Mao used to live is open to the public, there is a tiny space where they used to debate about politics and vote decisions, a small place to discuss about art, culture and education, and many places for tactics. Everything is small and simple. It is quite impressive that from this little town, this small place as a center of command and the combination of a big need of change, motivation, commitment and inspired by Engels, Marx, Lenin and adaption to the Chinese culture this country took the path that they end up taking. The museum only talk about the starting glorious days, when everything looks like a possibility.
Ideas in the past allowed the revolution, ideas in the present create apple brand, and I am ready to see how ideas in the future build an inclusive place. How ideas not separate people in friend or enemy, foreign or local, etc but how humanity manage to get alone…that is my vision…I hope I will live enough to built it or to witness it.
The museum is very nice if you get Chinese, if not is quite difficult to follow the story, that is not lineal, but it goes back and forth on time.
There are photograph of the leaders, or the wars, of the elements the soldiers had, the books Mao had written, there are section that stress the important role that intellectuals, teachers and the arts has in the revolution, on the other hand also they mention and recognize the important help they received from health providers as doctors and nurses as well as from some foreign that supported from other communist international parties. Especially from Canada, there was to a doctor that treated many people here in their difficult times.
There are two stores in the museum, one in each level, for memorabilia of the revolution, you can find stamps, books, t-shirt, posters, cutting traditional paper with leaders shapes, DVD with speeches, jewelry, etc. I bought music, traditional anthems and worrier spiritual songs. No clue how it sounds. There it was not a way to listen there the music cds in advance. But around the exhibition in the museum on the walls there were many lyrics of the anthems of the warriors and songs during the revolution times, (that took many years, it was not just in a day). I was eager to listen how does those notes sounds. I could not stop thinking in Sylvia, in Spain and in the Marching Quixotes…and the role music and songs have in social movements thru history.
People were more than nice making sure that I arrive to the places I was supposed to get. One student that was not certain if I was getting what she was saying took my hand and cross the street with me in order to walk me to the bus that it was in front of us. I was in the opposite direction! In those moments I think a lot about Marco Polo, some people sais is a myth and that he never made it up till here, but he is my hero, I admire his journey coming here so long ago…and even been brave enough to try at that time the noodle in the street…!
I went to the restaurant that suggests Lonely Planet but it was dark, crowded and not inspiring to eat there. Cream Ice creams are a nice solution for a while, but I need a real food dish. I end up eating in Pizza Hut, that is a nice restaurant, not only a pizza place. Everything is super tasty and not very expensive. The only downside is the concept of cold beer it is quite questionable.
I was ready to blow my candles, I wish I had already in Tibet but covering Beijing and Xian took me longer, because the important in this trip, as should be in life, is not getting there but enjoying the ride. The schedule put me here, which was interesting as well. So many things to reflect and get ideas about social movements the role of ideas and ideology, etc, so I hope to live long enough, I have glimpses of knowledge and insights but I will need at least other 40 years.
I am grateful, grateful for getting the chance to evolve everyday, for being mental and physical healthy, for having you in my life (and many more true folks that only read Spanish and I was able to manage a long terms long distance relationships). I am grateful for trying to build for myself a meaningful life, a live with not regrets, a life that worth to live in, a life with awareness and low compromises. A life with ups and downs, but a life that focuses as much as possible on the present, because I have learnt that the pass could depressed me so much and the future will surround me inevitably by anxiety. I am not in control, and I happy with it. I am turning 40, today I am full of joy and happy because I achieved a tricky concept, I embody it, I have freedom, I am free, I am full aware of my creativity and my potential and my limitations and I can work on that. I am 40 that looks like 30, or at least I want to think I could bargain in some market and the teller will end up giving me 30…ok, ok, 35, deal…!
I got tired at 8 pm, I felt asleep with my cloth on in the super big and comfortable bed until the middle of the night that I manage to enter into the bed itself.
No internet connection in Yanan, so I could not do my routine of loosing on the online scrabble against Sebastian, Mark, Otto, and Damien that feels so great. It is my five minutes of sense of routine from my hectic days here, moments that are more than welcome sometimes…. Even I am building words for 6 points against people that always mark at least 20 points each time!