Cobblestones of Yangshou, China

My, my, my…time has sped by. I apologize for my lack of attentiveness since leaving you on a rainy afternoon in Yangshou. However, with the big city awe of Hong Kong, a timely visit by the police and practically quantum leaping over border crossings – yes, I admit that I’ve been negligent to my duties. If only to avoid the hassle of writing on bumpy buses or in the tea light lit murkiness of a cafe, I’ve been letting my thoughts pile into a cluttered jumble of chaos. Even I can’t resolve what happened when as many of our nights and days have switched places. Bright eyed and annoyingly uncomfortable during overnight journeys only to sleep the cloudy afternoons away in the days following. Such situations are part of the hastily wrapped package called traveling – welcome to my world.

Happy Thanksgiving with no pumpkin pie

While many of you were munching turkey, grandma’s stuffing, and mom’s green bean casserole, I was desperately scouring the city for some resemblance of a holiday meal. KFC was down the road, but without my 30+ cousins chattering in the background, it’s seemed pointless to munch away on fried chicken wings and sides of cardboard mashed potatoes. When in Rome then¬†…….I settled for a generous plate of veggie dumplings and spicy noodles – there was some chicken bits in there somewhere. Chicken/turkey – all a part of the same feathered family.

Cara and I spent Thanksgiving day teaching a mass of 6th graders the colors of the rainbow and mixed up words to the hokey pokey. With our different accents, pronunciations of ‘z’ and interpretations of popular childhood songs, I think we only confused the poor darlings. Earlier, we happened upon a sweet old lady who has been living in Yangshou for several years, organizing overseas English teachers for the surrounding school districts. Her husband also headed a nonprofit organization based primarily on travelers who passed through the area. His aim was to bring as many volunteers for however long they could spare into the poorer school districts. These schools received no government funding to pay for real English teachers. We happily signed up for a day of ABC’ing and were whisked off to a tiny village across the river. The kids were ecstatic to meet some westerners and, aside from a few naughty boys, the class was determined to learn as much as they could during our short visit.

Yangshou, though a lovely cobblestone village, soon came to remind us too much of the China version based in Disneyland. The weather also encouraged a quick escape. There were only too many rainy afternoons spent in tea cafes or dodging raindrops that we could handle. Along with the seemingly endless masses of tourists carted back and forth along the river, we quickly decided to hightail it to Hong Kong on an overnight bus. The fact that our visas expired in 24 hours hurried our decision as well. Off to the land of lights….

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