The heat (97) and humidity, relentless crowds of people, and eastern style toilets (hole in the ground) got to my travel partners yesterday and we headed home early. In addition, Andrew was fighting the stomach flu or something (he would eat anything, and did) so he wanted to head home.
Andrew’s change was easy as it was a non-stop and had availability. Our flight was in first class and first class was full on the 6th. So we waited first until 3 PM for a 4:10 PM departure, then were told we had to wait until 3:30 for a couple who were a no show or not. The first class couple showed at the last minute, but they put us in business class with no offer of refund of the extra miles. We left Shanghai at 4:10 PM on July 6th and arrived in Chicago at 5 PM July 6th. I slept all the way back to Chicago and we spent last night in the Airport Hilton. Our flight to Traverse City is today at 8:10 AM.
Here are the things that I will remember most about our trip:
- The Great Wall in the mist.
- The train ride from Beijing to Xian, particularly the two hours in rural China early in the morning. I can’t describe the poor conditions. It was amazing to me to see how primitive their lives are — all 800 million of the rural Chinese. The conditions for the 500 million city dwellers is better, but certainly not to western standards.
- The Terra Cotta Warriors and thinking about the lives and struggle of the 700,000 people who built that tomb and the surrounding protection.
- The people. Individually, they were warm and curious about us. But the sheer numbers were just overwhelming. The chaos of traffic in the cities is indescribable.
- The wages are on average 2,000 yuan per month (6.40 per $1). They just raised the taxes so those making under 3,300 yuan per month don’t have to pay taxes.
Will I go back? Probably not.
Am I glad I went? Absolutely. Until we see how the rest of the world lives, we cannot be truly grateful for all we have. I am a grateful American and glad to be home.
I’ll try to post Katy’s and Andrew’s photos over the next couple of weeks. And to those who sent me emails while we were gone, I’m sorry I could not get to them all. If you have not gotten your answers elsewhere by now, give me a day then try again. I’ll try to get back on track by then.