Category: China, 2012

Group Therapy

October 29

Final breakfast at hotel, and check out.

Mr. Pi shows up on time, Evan checking twice to make sure. Friendly guy, Mr. Pi (pronounced “pea”) and able to communicate in English. Uneventful trip to airport, arriving two hours early. Long lines, and unclear which one I need to be in. Had been unsuccessful in trying to print out boarding pass at hotel.

After some 15 minutes in one line, I ask a Chinese fellow with U.S. passport where I need to be. He very kindly takes me around the airport asking various people questions and finally approaching airline people at a counter not in operation, and they check my bags and issue boarding pass. Not sure I’d have made it without this fellow’s extensive and kind help. May he be rewarded, either in this life, or another. Hope to honor that kindness by showing similar concern for foreigners I may encounter from time to time in the U.S.

Through security, I have unsuccessful attempts to get money from an ATM and make an equally unsuccessful effort to sign into Wifi. Isn’t travel in a country you don’t speak the language fun? Now at gate awaiting flight to Guiyang on Air China.

Reflections on Beijing. Seems much less “foreign” than it did twelve years ago. Looks like a modern Western city, with excellent and distinctive architecture mixed with some basic fairly ugly older stuff. Pollution is considerably worse, as will happen when you replace bicycles with cars.

Being with Evan made for a unique Beijing experience and an opportunity to get some feel for what’s happening, though the details are way beyond me. Hell, I can’t even pronounce the names of the main characters. Evan’s hospitality converted what was to be a stop to get over jet lag into a quite memorable couple of days.

Plane is pretty-much full, and with Chinese. Almost nobody speaking English. About a 3-hour flight. Spent a good part of it reading Barbara Demick’s excellent book, Nothing to Envy, and learning much about Korea of which I was ignorant.

Arrival about half an hour late, raining but not hard. Met by Lee, part of Nevada’s team, who introduced me to Randy, a very gregarious guy from Toronto, who has taken many photography trips, but not with Nevada. I think he will prove to be a good travel companion. Checked into a large Sheraton, very acceptable and very like Sheratons the world over.

Relaxed for a while, then discovered there was wifi available in the lobby, so I checked emails. Around six, Nevada and six of the ten group members, plus Lee, and Xue Biao (pronounced “shway bee-ah-o) had drinks together in the lobby and Nevada talked about the trip, telling us that there’d already been several changes in the itinerary. This did not come as a surprise, since she’d said that would happen in the materials. Nevada has a very nice manner.

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Besides Randy, there’s Sheila, Suzette, Evelyn and Dayton. Seems like a very congenial, low-key group, several of whom have traveled with Nevada before and looks as if we’ll get on very well together. Short bus ride over to a Chinese restaurant, where we had a good meal of many courses, pre-ordered, with Nevada. I think using chopsticks will cut down on my food consumption, which is a good thing.

Rode back to the hotel and, because I hadn’t taken any photos all day, I wandered over by the river to take some night shots, several of which are below.

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I intend to try to post this blog, then retire for the evening by around ten. Feel good about prospects for a good group experience, but tomorrow will be the first real test.

This may very well be the last blog post for two weeks, because of lack of Internet access. If so, see you in Singapore. And good luck to us all in the presidential election.

Group Therapy

  • Margo Oberman

    Arnie,
    Am enjoying your blog thus far. So glad you had a wonderful stay in Beijing with Evan. Happy to hear that you are comfortable with the group. Enjoy! Enjoy!
    xoMargo

  • Wendy

    Great thought to honor the kindness of the man who helped you in the airport by showing the same kindness to foreigners you encounter here. I had a very similar encounter at a train station in Japan, where I’m quite sure I’d still be if it weren’t for the extraordinary generosity of one English-speaking Japanese man. Fantastic that it seems like such a great group, Dadz. Really like the first and second night shots.
    See you in Singapore, if not before.
    L,
    W.

  • Barbara

    Ni haow ma!

    And I must say, Arn, how impressed I am by your apparent serenity, during these consistently frustrating and foreign adventures. And your reckless courage to press on, in the face of the often unintelligible unknown. To accept “what is,” and “changing only what can be changed,” as they teach at AA.

    Ever since dad ditched me, alone and terrified, when I was 10, on the main floor of Marshal Field’s, I’ve been compromised. Hesitant to navigate alien and potentially perilous terrain but always awed by the audacity of others.

    You go, big bro! I look forward to hearing more about your travels and traveling companions.

    Gorgeous night lights!
    Your Little Sis

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