Friday, September 08, 2006

Photos of Yang shuo and Guilin

In order to get a picture of what China is like today, one would have to go back to a time of donkey-drawn carts, water buffalo-drawn plows, wheel-barrows, shoe-shine men, World War II vehicles and things that many of us are too young to remember.

But, do you remember the days of bicycle inner tubes, blackboards and chalk, tacky, fake wood grain Mac Tac, panty-liners that won't let go, plastic crimped pvc pipe, large plain white square tiles, heavy, ornate ceiling molding, pleated drapery, leaky fridges and colour-damaging laundry soap? Do you remember when fruit tasted like fruit? Remember when organic fruit and veggies were cheap because nobody knew it was organic?

Electric scooters are very popular here. They're as quiet as a bicycle, except for a low hum and the rattle of plastic as the tires roll over bumps in the road. I love them! They're clean and almost noiseless!

On the way home from school, I have a ten-minute walk through the compound. I pass by row houses of dingy stucco with little children sitting on doorsteps and women busying themselves. A dozen ducks waddle around like they own the place, parading into houses or just mulling about.

I don't know how many times I have gotten lost on the way home. Turn right, go straight, turn left down a narrow alley, turn right around the pile of stones and gravel, walk to the telephone, turn right, then left where the road splits, walk past the wall with broken glass on the top, then another right, turn left past the hydrant and I'm home. Uneven pavement and choppy, patchwork-like, stone walkways require a sharp eye to the ground.

Then, there's the everlasting dust! It seeps into cracks and crannies, coating everything everywhere all the time. Where does it all come from?

Living on campus has its drawbacks. My apartment, which overlooks the sports field, seems to be in the school's mega speakers' direct line of fire. The same three annoying songs are broadcasted over and over and over, several times throughout the day, as if to brainwash us. There's never just silence. On top of that, every 40 minutes, a cute little ditty is played to announce the change of class. Peace and quiet is a luxury that China, apparently, can't afford.

Some days, it feels like there's a conspiracy to take my sanity away! Some days, I feel, “I don't want to go outside! China is out there!”

I had a ride on a bamboo raft like this but mine had a roof on it.

New Year's celebrations leave the streets littered with red paper.

A panoramic view of Yangshuo

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