For Payton
and Deona


Connecting Mandarin and English,
          Chinese and American,
                    people with people

Guilin, China
(September 30, 2008) (return to Homepage)
     Some 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 am."
     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 companions.

     Next is another day.

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