thanksgiving weekend was spent in the chinese city of guilin and surrounding areas. it was truly beautiful... remote rice paddy villages, crystal clear rivers snaking along the bases of tall, finger-like mountains... an alien planet compared to the skyscraping metropolis of hong kong. at any minute i felt like i would be surrounded by willow, his nelwin friends, cute daikini babies and a long-haired, sword-wielding val kilmer... watch this if you have no idea what the heck i'm talking about (around 1:20 is when the finger-like mountains pop up):
matt and i were so grateful to spend this time with his younger brother kit (see cyberhood links "burton"). not only is kit a stellar brother, but he is fluent in mandarin, and this trip absolutely would not have been possible without him.
instead of a weekend play-by-play, i thought i'd share a few things i learned on my thanksgiving holiday:
1. china, the smoker's best friend. if you smoke and are feeling a little discriminated against, head to china... they let you smoke anywhere! case in point: matt, kit and i were traveling via bus from guilin to yangshuo, a cool little touristy town with beautiful scenery just an hour south of guilin. a few minutes into the ride, the over-powering smell of a burning cigarette filled the bus, and i was shocked to learn that behind me a man had just lit one up. to make matters worse, the windows on the bus weren't really windows... they were just clear, plexi-glass walls, so "fresh" air was not an option. matt was livid (he was also livid at the fact that for the past 45 minutes we had been driving at a whopping speed of 5 mph to try to pick up more passengers), so we picked up our bags, demanded off, and took a cab to yangshuo. sigh, my knight in shining armor... protecting his wife and youngling from carcinogenic toxins... i love him.
2. china, the public health nightmare. i hate birds. i really, really do, and the fact that they have recently taken center stage with this whole avian flu scare has just fueled my fiery hatred. welp, it's no wonder that people are getting sick over here from birds... in some places man and beast basically share a bed. okay, maybe i exaggerate a little, but i'm truly not far off. i saw chickens and ducks just aimlessly wandering about, spreading their infectious fecal matter wherever they pleased. the himdaddy avian-experience of them all was when matt, kit and i were on yet another bus ride (hmm, seeing a pattern here) on our way to take a lovely little cruise down the li river. the minibus was basically full except for a vacant seat right next to kit and across the aisle from matt and me. the minibus pulled over and on climbs a gentleman with a live duck, soon-to-be dinner, in a sack. the dude took the last seat available, right next to dear kit, and chucked the duck under the seat, the bird's head poking out of the top of the sack, quacking quietly. i nearly went into convulsions and immediately clawed open the window (luckily this bus had real windows). kit my friend, you are one brave soldier.
3. china, the humble reminder. china is such a crazy place: you have to make sure you buy legitimate bottled water and not the knock-off kind (what?), the government sensors the news, internet and who knows what else, the pollution is so thick you rarely see the sun set, and it's so hard for me, a spoiled american girl, to imagine that 1.3 billion of the earth's population calls this place home. it truly made me wonder why i was so blessed to be born where i was to whom i was, made me realize that i really have absolutely nothing to complain about and innumerable reasons to be thankful, and also that i have a lot to live up to... truly a thanksgiving weekend.
as our flight touched down back in hk from our long, adventurous, and memorable weekend, i nearly shed tears of joy. hong kong may still be a far cry from dallas, texas and northern utah, but at least our apartment here has a western toilet and a box of macaroni and cheese in the cupboard. hallelujah.
photographic evidence (feel free to speed this slideshow up cos there be a lot to see):