I've come back from China. It was a great trip, and I'm really glad that I went, though the beginning and the end both had some bad parts... Crossing the borders! On the way there, I had to get to Canada to get things done, and that was a mess, and coming back, I had a nice three hour wait in the airport trying to get out.
First, they didn't have enough people in the normal immigration line to keep up with the pace, and there might have been 1000 people in line, and growing as I stood there (1 hour). Then I made the mistake of saying that my purpose of visiting China was to visit a friend. I should have said tourism, I guess. So they scribbled something on my card in red ink.
Then I collected my bags, and at customs, they sorted me into the stupid slow line, the one where they have 15 people in it and it takes 20 minutes per person or more, with no explanation why I am there. Since my dad had agreed to pick me up at the airport (a 1.5 hour drive) I didn't want him to decide to leave, so I tried to get a message to him, but the border prevents phone activity by costing too much, so he didn't have his phone on, and I didn't know the number. So I was trying, but failing. Finally, I got to the front and they searched my stuff, and that was that. Severely disgruntled, I got out and my dad was still there! Then a border wait and drive back. Ouch.
So the moral is to cross as few borders as possible, or don't go anywhere.
But I am really glad I went, because the middle part of the trip was great. I can't say that I really loved China itself, or Beijing, but there are some parts of that country that I liked. The parts without many people in them. Up in the mountains, near the Great Wall.
The main reason I didn't fall in love with China is the pollution. I didn't take very many pictures because the light was too white, and I like the red and yellow sunlight. But the last day I was there (tuesday) I went up with Marie on a trip around town, and it was beautiful! We went up this little hill in the middle of town and you could see all over. I think this is the best air quality (by far) that I had seen the whole trip. The hill is directly north of the Forbidden City, so it has a nice view over that area. And for some reason, there are these plants that grow all over the place that I don't know what they are, but I was wondering if they were hemp. They had 7 leaves, and spiky sort of thing, and they are all over the place.
I'm also including a shot of the team from Beijing Big Brother, a frisbee team that I played with in June at the Shanghai tournament. It was a great time, and we won the tournament.
And a bottle of sprite from China glows mysteriously.... Because of a super bright green laser that I got there.
So now I am back in the USA, I will take the next week to put my head on straight and go to Karl's wedding and then I have a few weeks before I need to get to Mexico and the boat. I'm trying to work out the easiest way to do that, but then I'll be working my way south and back to the traditional "life on water."