Calendar Shock and the Great Wall of China

 

Chinese Acting Troop
Acting Troop in my Chinese Hometown

Has Spring Sprung?

Well, spring is late in arriving, but it is finally arriving. For this post, I am still reaching back to old photos, but I hope they are interesting ones, anyway. Next Tuesday, I will take a trial walk along the White Pine Trail – which runs nearby – to Cadillac, 14 miles – with pack and my new camera, and attempt to simulate a day on the trail of my fast approaching Long Walk, and I will write about it afterwards.

Calendar Shock

Today, I was stunned by the date and counted the days between now and leaving – 10 days! As much as I am looking forward to the walk, I would shove another week in there if I could. I don’t know why. I would probably say the same thing in a week. For the past 3 weeks, I have been telling everybody that my trip was 3 weeks away, and now it is less than 2 weeks away! I told someone just this week that I had 3 weeks to go.  3 weeks just seems right. But, now, 10 days only! Yikes!  I have traveled around my whole life. Why am I anxious about this walk charging up at me?  No clue, but I am!

The Great Wall of China

Great Wall
The Great Wall

I need blogging practice and I don’t want to go too many days without a post!  Bear with me on this. Thanks!

However, I hope that this will be the last post before the walk using old photos, and a non-walking theme.  Especially after my last post about the “Season of Brown” that we have in Michigan right now, I decided on a splash of color.

China is very colorful!  About 12 years ago, I spent a year and a half traveling back and forth to China and staying for longer stays – 2 weeks to 2 months per trip. I was helping a big Russian company buy a big Chinese company. I don’t even remember what kind of confidentiality agreements I signed in connection with the deal, but I will skip all stories about business-dealings in China, just to be safe, and, instead, show pictures of what I did on the side.

Jeff's Angels
Jeff’s Angels – A Tough Tour of Duty!

The top photo of the this blog post is very colorful.  It is of an acting troop in the town where I spent most of my time.  The town is a couple hours’ drive from the gigantic city of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, and is about halfway between Shanghai and Beijing, just more inland.

Tour Guides
A Tour of the Town

This town became my second home for 18 months. I also spent a lot of time in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. From Beijing, I made three visits on separate trips to the Great Wall. It is a sight! The Great Wall is the only man-made feature on Earth that you can see from the moon! It casts a long shadow.

Tai-Chi
Tai-Chi with Liang-Li

Maybe, you think that the Chinese don’t like Americans, but I can correct you on that. I was treated like a rock star! People actually stopped me in the street to have a picture taken with me! Three university students, who were hired to help out with me and my – at times – dozens of consultants, gave me a tour around the town we were staying in. They really looked out after me!

Tai-chi
Tai-Chi with Liang-Li

Yes, it was a tough tour of duty, but somebody had to do it.  I will post photos of our walk around  town. Liang-Li, who spoke the best English of the 3, is showing me Tai-Chi moves, in a square in  front of the burial complex of the Song Dynasty Emperor Zhao Chen (the fourth emperor of the North Song Dynasty). If you look close in the photo, you will see many circles painted on the ground, all over the plaza. They mark off the positions for the scores of people who do their Tai-Chi exercises there, en-masse, every morning.

Dance
Dance in the Ice Cream Parlor

After the walk, we went to an ice cream parlor (also a photo somewhere on the post). There a funny, but memorable thing happened. A young girl came into the ice cream parlor and came up to our table and did a very impressive dance – expressive and graceful. When she was done, I thought I should give her some money, but she turned around and ran outside. I said to my three friends that I wished I could have given her a little money for her dance. They all said, no, that was not why she did it. They said she

Dance
Dance in the Ice Cream Parlor

saw me and want to do her dance for me. She would have not known what to do if I offered here some money. But, heck, she didn’t even wait around for my applause!

I am going to have more pictures than words in this post, so the pictures will run on. I will just describe them and I think it will be clear which pictures I am referring to.

Dragon's Gate
The Dragon’s Gate on the Yi River

In a couple of pictures, you will see statues of Buddha, and thousands of holes in the cliffs with Buddhas, Buddhas everywhere, tens of thousands of Buddhas. This is the Longmen Grottoes – directly translated, Dragon’s Gate Grottoes – or also Longmen Caves. They stretch along 12 kilometres (7.5 miles), in cliffs along the Yi River. I heard it also called “The Dragon’s Gate” because of the hills on each side of the Yi River.

Longmen Grottoes
Longmen Grottoes – , Dragon’s Gate Grottoes

I don’t know if I am saying something original now, or if I read it somewhere, but I found that, in China, you see something every day that you just don’t see every day!

The Biggest Buddha
The Longmen Grottoes – The Biggest Buddha, 57 Feet Tall

Look for the picture of the complaining telephone!

Then, I have included pictures of my main interpreter for my visits there, Donna. Many Chinese who work with us westerners take on an extra name, western names, to make things easier on us, I guess. Donna has worked at the UN in Geneva, and was a talented interpreter, and, in my opinion, beautiful. As I said, it was a tough tour of duty!

Complaining Telephone
Complaining Telephone at the Longmen Grottoes

I went to Shaolin Temple more than once. It is famous for its famous form of Kung-Fu, Shaolin Kung-Fu. The temple naturally has monks. You will see a photo of a very important monk – it will be clear when you see the photo that he must be an important monk.

Shaolin Kung-Fu
Shaolin Kung-Fu

Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly why he was important. He could be that he was the head monk at Shaolin.

Our meals were always a spectacle! All served banquet style with food revolving around the center of the table with large centerpieces of flowers, andsometimes ice sculptures. You see me in a slightly blurred picture drinking a shot with a Chinese colleague – Ganbei! (A toast, which literally means “dry cup”!)

Important Monk
A Very Important Shaolin Monk

Another blurred photo, but I had to include it, showed one of the delicacies that I ate OFTEN at banquet meals – deep fried scorpions. I ask one of my Hosts about the possibility of getting poisoned by eating them. I was told that the poison sacks of the scorpions are removed before cooking, but the chef had to have

Banquet
Banquet

great skill. I asked if our Chef had great skill. Oh, yes, he is brought in specially from Beijing.  Well, that was a relief!

For my personal safety, you can see, at the very bottom of this post, the Kung-Fu bodyguards that accompanied me everywhere!

Deep Fried Scorpions
Yummy Deep Fried Scorpions

For a bit more completeness, I have included pictures I took of the famous cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing (at the Forbidden City).

Eating Scorpions
Eating Scorpions,, Hoping that the Chef was Skilled

Again, I hope to start posting my “fresh” pictures, starting in my next post, after my trial shake-down walk on Tuesday.

But, I like these pictures and I have hundreds. Every trip to China was fascinating for me.

 

Ganbei!
Ganbei!

 

 

 

In China, you see something every day that you just don’t see every day!

 

 

A Banquet with Colleagues
A Banquet with Colleagues
My Interpreter, Donna
My Interpreter, Donna, at Shaolin Temple
Shanghai
Shanghai at Night
Shanghai
The Bund or Waitan is a waterfront area in central Shanghai
Forbidden City
Beijing – Me in Front of the Forbidden City
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
My Bodyguards
My Bodyguards

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: Jeff

International banker, now turned painter, collector, blogger and hiker. Also, in the last few years, a leukemia survivor, which has been a life-changer for me in more ways than one! Follow my blog at a-long-walk.com.

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