Day 11 – April 17, 2011
This morning we traveled, by train, from Beijing to our host homes. The train station itself was an experience – dragging our suitcases up and down the stairs was a challenge. It was amazing to watch the men we hired to handle our collective baggage get it into the train. They tossed it all on two carts, strapped it down tight, and steered the carts down a very steep (and narrow) incline that ran parallel to the stairs – no elevators! I held my breath as they positioned their bodies between the carts and the bottom of the incline to slow the speed – thank goodness there were no children at the bottom! The station itself was a wonderful microcosm of China, its people and cultures. It was a bustle with the color, sounds, and smells of travelers, many balancing suitcases and children. The ride itself was uneventful; the stop at our destination was not. We had two minutes to unload our baggage and exit the train before it left for its next destination – can you say assembly line (smile) – go go go.
My home stay was with my Chinese colleague, my sister, Ms. Zhao Hong. I was so happy to see her face when we were picked up. It was as if the time between now and our last visit had never happened. We were able to pick up right where we left off with our friendship and conversation. Despite the language barrier, you find ways to communicate and share your feelings and thoughts. Later that afternoon, we made dumplings together at her home. Her husband, a lawyer and professor, rolled the dough, while Hong and I filled them with a yummy mixture of vegetables. What a wonderful way to begin our visit together.