Noilly Prattle: China – Winter 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

China – Winter 2016


     People have asked me why I wanted to go to China. The short answer is simple enough, because, like a mountain, it's there. The long answer is another matter. I had been to China only once before and only to Shanghai in 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics. But that was like peeling only the outer skin of an onion. Shanghai is a bustling, cosmopolitan, smog enshrouded city caught up in China's emergence as a major world power once again.

New Year decoration in hotel lobby -
red is the predominant color in China
        What accounts for the longevity and durability of Chinese civilization, a civilization that has endured for some 4000 years? Gone are the Sumerians and the Babylonians, the Egyptians and the Romans, deflated the Spanish and British Empires and seemingly losing influence the American Empire; yet China as a definable culture with a written history that can still be read in the same characters endures, and like the Phoenix rises again and again with that substratum of culture intact, seemingly indestructible. Maybe China is like a willow that can bend but is strong and doesn't break easily.

New Year building decoration near
People's Square in downtown Shanghai
        I wondered what the “real” China, the hinterlands, would be like. Living in Japan, China is easily accessible by air. It is only a couple hours from Okayama to Shanghai and about four hours from Shanghai to Dali in Yunnan Province in the eastern foothills of the Himalaya Mountains not far from the Tibetan border where we decided to spend the winter months from mid-February (at the end of the Chinese New Year of the Monkey) to early April. From Dali we planned to travel north to Shaxi, Li Jiang (Shuhe) and Shangri La. Whether or not I can learn something about what makes this country “tick”, perhaps my impressions and experiences and thoughts may show.

To be continued...

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