Connecting Mandarin and English,
(September 30, 2008) (return
of the first pictures we saw of China a couple years ago were of Guilin.
Yansong, a student from Guilin brought a small booklet of the scenery from
the area. It was unique and beautiful filled with quiet rivers and green
steep little hills. Now we are here.
The pictures are not exaggerated, it fact,
they may not be a clear picture of the extensiveness and variety of the
limestone fingers straight up out of the countryside. They are everywhere
and to understand how civilization coexists with these giants, I took a
picture of a street in a town that was lined with sidewalks on each side
and the sidewalks fronted directly against the vertical limestone wall.
While some fingers touched each other at the
base, others were divided by drops and fields that had been nutured for
hundreds of years. Others were divided by tranquil rivers crowded with boats
carrying some 50 passengers up and down the river.
Our tour group consisted of about 26 persons
with two guides, a lead guide who talks and counts heads and another to
follow the last tourist to make certain no one is lost. Each was issued
a white baseball cap with a blue brim so the guides and other tours can
spot each other. Despite their overwhleming beauty, only about four adventured
out as warriors brave enough to wear them. We were also issed tote bags
for our sourvenirs; they may glow in the dark but I haven't tried it yet.
This is truly a new expreience for us as we
have never joined into a "tour." The guides are great; the one
talks almost as long as we drive which in some cases is about an hour. The
tour is enjoyable and informative and we think it would be much more informative
if we understood anything the guide says. Our traveling companion is our
interpreter and she is doing excellent, especially considering all the words
the guide uses. As tours go, we have been ushered everywhere every moment
of the day almost including going to the toilet except that they don't give
us time for that either. We're almost on the bus before the showers are
over and returned to the hotel in time for the late night news. Well, of
course, the paradox is that the motto when you're touring with some one
million Chinese, is "Hurry up and wait."
Our first "Hurry and Wait" was the
boat cruise around the lakes and waterways in the middle of Guilin. The
banks are lined with highly manicured walkways and parklike spaces. One
of the outstanding sights, besides all the limestone fingers, was a beautiful
waterfall created by water artifically piped to the top of the hill. It
was beautiful, albeit not natural.
A major attraction for this first day was
a cave. This shouldn't have come as a surprise in a countryside filled with
limestone hills and flowing water. It was referred to as a eroded cave and
the smooth softly curved walls and ceiling supported the name. By most standards
it was huge; not just a large room but a gymasium in size. But that was
just the first room. Well groomed walkways took us from room to room, an
elevator scurred up and down to give the thousands of visitors another view.
One walk took us to an underground river at which point we boarded a small
skiff powered by an oarsman in front and another in back. There were no
lights in this area of the care except for some portable lights for each
passenager to explore the walls. The oarsmen counted on an occassional flash
of light in front of the skiff to find their way. There was some evidence
that most of what we were seeing was artifically enhanced.
We had been in the process of planning to
parting ways with the rest of the group for supper so that we could meet
and visit with the parents of three WOU students. Li Fangqin's parents met
us at the designated restaurant and took us out for a beautiful meal of
great food. Fangqin's mother invited us to their apartment which was just
a short walk and right by the lakes we toured earlier in the day. It was
our first sense of "I've been here beofre and maybe I konw where I
I will continue to try to get time to
add some pictures. Of course, that what you come for.
A note about Chinese hosptials:
As a nurse
and a member of the medial profession for more that 30 years, it's
only natural that Gail would want to visit a hospital, it's just
that she didn''t plan it this way. While the rest of our tour group
headed to breakfast, Gail and our two traveling companions escorted
me to the hospital in a taxi. Without getting specific some of me
bodily functions shut down some time on Tuesday and refused to reestablish
proper functions throughout the night. Remember that it's national
week throughout the country which may have been to our advantage
in that few people were
at the hospital except for
emergencies. No one was at the reception window so we were
escorted to the doctor's office which was off the waiting room.
We just went in and announced
ourselves while he talked to another patient. We were told that
it would be a ten minute wait. During those ten minutes, or more,
the population in the entry doubled to a couple dozen and each simply
walked into the doctor's office regardless of who was in the office
and sought their time with him. He
was writing out orders as the world [could have] watched.
Our time came and we explained my
inabilities and he sent us to the internal medicine doctor whose
office was two doors down the hall. Then
we were sent to a B-ray exam. The technician hadn't arrived
on third floor before we did but did so soon. There were no doors
or expectation of what to expect as I exposed my belly for a scanning
(basically ultra-sound). She saw a white spot (kidney stone) and
black (the result of the stone and the excuse for the pain that
kept me up all night.
With the ultra-sound report written
we took it and the earlier reports and just walked into the internal
medicine office and
put the paperwork under her nose. After reading it carefull, or
at least for a long time, she called in a specialist. The specialist
was right there, read the report slowly and announced his decision.
He escorted me into the adjoining room. Gail wondered about the
floor cleaning process as there were large drops of blood on the
floor. The containers rusted and not very shiny. I was pleased to
observe the doctor's technique for sterlization was quite good.
He demonstrated the use of my new device as someone paid the bill.
We still have no idea what the morning cost, but in yuan it
was probably several hundred, or $30. It would be interesting to
know the actual cost.
Incidently the pain vanished immediately
with the process and we cancelled the thought
of cancelling the remainder of the trip. With care I was determined
to continue and not mess up an awesome trip for Gail and our traveling
Next is another day.