Thursday, January 1, 2009

The traveller and the homebody

From the skater: "Chengdu was probably the grossest place I've ever been. The pollution was close to intolerable and there was just filth everywhere. I saw a street cleaner once and it was hand built. Despite those sad factors, I actually had quite a good time there. Being in such a different place doesn't seem to get old."

From the seaman: "...with the end in sight the days are starting to drag even harder. I've already created countdowns on the calendar on my phone and the paper one in my room, and it helps to be able to see when I've passed certain markers— yesterday was the 20 days to go point."


For the first time in nearly two years, everyone in the family is experiencing similar weather:

Chicago 36 and overcast
Shanghai 39 and rainy
Southhampton 37 and cloudy

From the skater

Appropriately, a description of a boat trip:

"After our shows in Chengdu I went on a four-day boat trip down the Yangtzee (sp?) River. The whole trip was rather exciting because we never really knew where we were. There was always someone there to tell us where to go but no one ever told us where we were. Our tour guide could tell us 'ok you'll wake up at 6 to go see a temple and you should be back on the boat by 9' and she would give us our ticket for the temple and we would go look at it. Sometimes there would be a sign with English on it explaining the site but usually not. It didn't matter because everything we saw was so beautiful to look at.

"Our first day was spent mostly on a bus in the city of Chondqing. We saw a few sites including a big gold Buddha, 2 prisons, and a knife factory. We never found out what the prisons were all about but one had a torture room with some very used looking devices. The knife factory was quite an experience. Like everywhere we went, we had no idea what it was. They took us into this building and sat us in a little room with chairs set up facing a little table with veggies and a giant metal pole on it. There was also three knives of varying sizes. A lady came in and started talking a million miles a minute about God knows what for several minutes. Then, seemingly out of the blue, she walks over to the metal pole with this big butchers knife and start beating on it with all her strength. At this point we are just buckled over with laughter because we can't imagine what is going on. It is only then that this guy who speaks English leans over and explains that the building we are in used to belong to the government and now belongs to a steel factory that makes these knives out of the same steel tanks are made of and that . Our lives made much more sense then.
We finally got onto the boat that night and sailed off till morning. This boat was absolutely the most communist thing I have ever encountered. Every morning at the designated wake up time an announcement was made over the loud speakers and then music would play until we left the boat. At the same time people would walk around and knock on your door to wake you. It was very interesting. Everyone wake up now! Ok everyone go see this temple now!"