Yes we are still on holiday and enjoying every minute of it just in case you were wondering!
We returned from our second ‘adventure’ North where we reached the border of Inner Mongolia but we can honestly say that we have experienced enough cold, ice and snow now to last us a life-time.
Although not as cold as Harbin
(the first part of the holiday) it
was still freezing cold at minus 10 degrees give or take an odd one
degree; any part of the body not covered up was attacked immediately by
the cold and when the wind blew - s*** - it was freezing . .
However, we survived and saw magnificent mountains, temples, postcard scenery etc for our pains as we travelled up through Shanxi Province to Inner Mongolia.
A highlight for us was seeing
The Great Wall of China again only
this time its western section covered in snow. Up there the people eat
potatoes and noodles rather than rice which we are accustomed to down
here in the south as it is grown here. Overall the food in Shanxi
wasn’t that crash hot and even our Chinese friends were quite
disgusted with what we were offered at meal times (now that should get
you using your imaginations!).
In Shanxi the main industry is
coal mining; lots of soot and the
smell of coal pervades the atmosphere reminding us of the UK in the
50’s and 60’s.
Every year hundreds (sometimes
thousands) of coal-miners are killed
mining accidents here; having seen some of the mines and the conditions
in which they have to work, we can now understand why such accidents
happen . . . no miners union here!
We have read that Guangdong Province where we work is one of the richest and most advanced provinces in China; often we have been sceptical of this statement but now having seen inland China we can now believe this observation.
Here in southern China we have poor people but not as poor as those in these poorer provinces like Shanxi; incredibly poor, they live in the harshest of conditions on a meagre ‘income’ and yet still manage to appear contented (or accepting) with their lot.
The traditional Chinese sense
of family is
paramount wherever we go; no snotty-nosed kids whose parents are in the
pub are seen here. Indeed there are many ‘western’
who could learn a thing or two from the poor people here.
Returning to the south (our
‘home’) we were pleased to
that no one had burgled the apartment and everything was intact;
students are slowly drifting back to the campus ready for the new
semester so life will soon return to normal . . . especially on Feb 28
when classes start.
Before then, however, we are
off to Zhuhai (near Macau) for a few
visiting one of our students; her parents have invited us to stay with
them (ominous . . . remember last year when we stayed at a
student’s house? SARS?).
Life continues to be just one
big long adventure for us!
Hope you are all well!
Mike & Angie