Trying to sum up my first Spring Festival experience would be like trying to figure out what my favorite food is. There are too many amazing things to think about, memories to savor… it’s an almost impossible task. But still one worth trying to undertake.
Spring Festival began with my first experience on a China train. I was a little nervous about feeling claustrophobic inside a hard sleeper compartment for 30 hours, but it ended up being a wonderful and joyful experience that I got to share with good friends. The train took us directly over the border into Hong Kong– a bus and subway ride later, we were at the retreat center where we’d have our ULS conference. It was great to be reunited with friends I met at summer training. The difference between HK and mainland China is striking– there isn’t a sign of mucus anywhere, the streets are cleaner, and things are SO expensive! It’s an fascinating place and I’ve heard more than a few people tell me that it’s their favorite city– and understandably so. HK is a nice balance between city life and some really beautiful natural geography. It also helped that I was reunited with Jason and surrounded by hills and the ocean.
Aside from being in an impressive city, it was wonderful retreating from far-from-normal life in Beijing and just focus on my work in China and renewing my spirit. It was a huge blessing sharing struggles and victories, and being nourished by others as well.
After HK, Jason and I headed for Guiyang via plane (hmm… now that I think about it, we literally traveled via plane, train, and automobile on this trip, hehe) and had an overnight stopover in Guangzhou. After a five-hour delay, we were finally on our way to Guiyang and landed around 3 AM. Although we didn’t do very much for a few days after we arrived, I really enjoyed seeing Jason’s environment and meeting Jason’s friends and new community. Guiyang is a very interesting city that’s been built somewhat spontaneously with buildings sprouting up randomly and roads curving around them– literally a “backwards” city as it’s often referred to. But the steep hills, narrow alleyways, and unique buildings reminded me a lot of San Francisco… so if I ignored the people hawking loogies as they sold food or the piles of dog carcass being stirred into pots of bubbling soup, it was almost like I was at home! Sort of…
After a few days of rest, Jason and I geared up for a trip into Li Ping County, an area outside of Guiyang city where many Chinese minority groups live. Along with some new friends (whom all speak Chinese fluently!), we headed out for what ended up being one of the most unique, interesting, and memorable experience I’ve ever had.
More to come!