Published: April 24th 2006April 22nd 2006
>>> This is the first e-mail I sent. I added comments to the photos here.
Just thought I'd say hello to you all. I'm having a great time in China. Very different from anything I've seen before. I'm writing from Songpan, a village up in the mountains of Sichuan (well, it's 70,000 people, which qualifies it as a hamlet in Chinese terms).
Just got back from a two day horse trek in the mountains up here. It's been quite an experience riding a horse. You have to get used to the idea that your mode of transportation has a mind of it's own and doesn't necessarily so what you want it to do. To prove the point, my horse didn't like another horse overtaking him, and so they got into a bit of a scuffle. The result was that I was ejected from the horse's back (not to worry, it was a small horse). Fortunately, there was a fresh pile of horse dung to greet me on the ground and cushion my fall. And so I was unharmed (though in need of a shower). From then on, it was pretty clear who was the boss... Other
Great wall wedding photos
This couple was getting their wedding photos taken at the wall. Notice that except for the bride, everyone was wearing lots of layers. Between shots the bride also put on a coat so she wouldn't freeze.
than that, the trek was amazing, going up and down mountains dotted with Tibetan villages and with alpine looking forests.
My strongest impression of China so far is of the energy of the people here. This greatly overshadows the amazing sights. People are incredibly friendly and optimistic on the whole. They really try and communicate with you even given the constraints of language. To just give you a taste of the type of people you meet, I found myself having conversations with an engineer from Xian who is working on the Carmel tunnels in Israel (who sat next to me on the plane), I also found myself talking to an MBA student who just got a job in Beijing and was returning to her village next to Xian. She saw me on the overnight train from Beijing to Xian and decided she wanted to practice her English, which was superb even though she has never been out of China. It was amazing to hear about China from a Chinese person and not just from a guidebook. It really gives you a perspective on the mentality of the place.
Besides that there are the usual experiences of being a
foreigner in a strange land, such as playing "Chinese Roulette" with a menu in a restaurant where no one speaks English, or meeting backpackers from the rest of the world. And of course the public Spitting and Belching which are not in bad taste here and which you become used to quite quickly.
That's it for me here. I hope you are all doing well. I specially want to send my love to those of you who are in Seattle. You are very much on my mind throughout this journey and I hope to see you again very soon.
Love to you all,
There are more photos below