Sunday, February 14, 2016

Welcome to China.

Distant thunder awakens me from a heavy slumber. Did it start raining?  Better question: is it morning yet?  I hope not.  With great effort, I open eyelids sanded shut.  Darkness.  Blast.  I roll over and shut my eyes.  More sleep please.  I've had a long day of travelling from Seoul, through Shanghai to Guilin and then at last to Liu Zhou, and for now I wish to be dead to the world...

Again I am awakened by a loud noise.  Is that a train I hear? Cracking and clunking down the line?  I don't remember seeing tracks near here... but then again I arrived in the middle of the night.  I emerge from the covers and pry open an eye.  White light shines through the translucent windows and I surrender to wakefulness.  A smile tugs at my cracked lips as I rub the sleep from my eyes.  It's a new day and I have arrived in China.  A trip to see a friend; a trip to visit a country; an adventure waiting to begin.
View from the top of one of the mountains.  Taken a couple days after I arrived.
To say my expectations shattered upon my exploration of the city would be inaccurate.  Mostly because, like with most of my adventures, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  All my life, China has been the strange and very distant place.  Sure, everything is made in China, but the country itself seemed enshrouded in thick cloth like a lady covered by a veil.  Just what lies hidden beneath the fabric?
One of the main roads as seen from atop a small mountain.
A look down a smaller street.
I head out into the city streets, excited to see and learn something new.  The main roads are wide and often chaotic. Cars, motorbikes and people all seem to follow a complicated dance.  It's a wonder to me that no one gets injured, and yet it also seems to work.  The side streets, too, are their own poetry.  Some weaving like zigzags between houses, while others march straight around the apartment-like buildings.

As I walk to market, I pass patches of red... dust?  Flower petals?  I bend low and examine the strange clumps of paper.  Looking down one of the narrow streets, I can see large patches of red every few feet.

Shots fire from somewhere between the buildings and I jump back in alarm.  The sound echoes through the narrow valleys, the tall buildings acting as an amp both magnifying and distorting the sound waves until it sounds like waves crashing... or thunder rolling and even a train clunking...

Do these shots meaning gun fire?  No one else appears alarmed...

I take another step down the street beneath red lanterns when a whine breaks the silence followed by a couple more shots.  I turn the corner to see lights popping and sparking in the air.  A few feet away, children crouch and cover their ears, their faces alive with glee.

Click.
Piles of fire cracker remains was everywhere.
Ah.  Never gun fire.  Not even a train or thunder in the early morning.

Fire crackers and fireworks.  Anytime, anywhere.  All week long.

Welcome to the Spring Festival and the Lunar New Year.

Love and Hugs.



1 comment:

Bruce Briard said...

Fireworks are a good way to celebrate!