Saturday, March 3, 2007

These are a few of my favourite things...

Over the past year living in China (Aug 05-Jun 06), we saw a great many things, from a torn apart body on the Yangzhou- Nanjing Expressway to the vast crowds at Tiananmen Square. Of course a lot of it was the nostalgia of visiting sights from my childhood. There is no way to express my feelings for Nanjing, and for China as a whole, but here are some experiences that left a mark on me.

1) Swooping down on Nanjing, a city I'd left behind nearly a decade ago. Seeing how much it had changed, even from the air, was enthralling

2) Walking from the old Hilton to Xinjiekou, also known as downtown Nanjing, something that led to my falling in love with the city

3) That first day at NIS, 15. Aug. Seeing that plethora of nationalities really got my senses flowing.

4) Shanghai. From my first night, driving amongst the skyscrapers on the Yan'an Elevated Road to swimming amongst the swaths of people on Nanjing Lu, New Years Eve, to the Jinmao Tower the day before a bleary-eyed departure, there is no way to describe this city other than amazing.

5) Trips Week '05. A week "roughing it" across Shaanxi and Henan. Included were 28 hours on trains and 12 on buses, but sifting through sites such as the Longmen Grottoes on the banks of the Yellow river, the Terracotta Army, Xian, and the home of Kung Fu, Shaolin, was amazing.

6) The afternoon spent at the Grand Canadian Academy, better known as Nanjing Foreign Languages School. Playing with Chinese kids and wandering around the campus with our host, Tommy, was "healthy", but more importantly, very interesting.

7) Hopkins Center soccer every weekend. From the exuberant Jia Kun to the cheeky Victor to the vets, Robert and my dad, Hans, there was a great mix in abilities, from NCAA to novice, everyone was represented. As with everything Hopkins-related, the sense of looking forward, enjoying life to the full was contagious.

8) Looking down on Tiananmen Square from the Forbidden City during the Golden Week, it was unnerving to think of the history that had unfolded on the exact tile I was standing.

9) Xuanwu Lake. Whilst some people described it as dull, it showed what the Chinese can do when they want to. The result, a pristine, elaborate park, complete with rowing club and a very watery driving range. Major deja vu after going to Al Azhar park in Cairo. Two up- and-coming countries, though.

10) The pirating business. Just like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving the poor. It allows all but the poorest of the poor to access Western media. And it allows foreigners to build up ridiculous DVD collections. You could even get them in foreign supermarkets, such as Carrefour.

11) Biking around Nanjing. This was probably the most influential factor in my addiction to Nanjing, because it meant you could take in the sights and smells, roam the city at ones will. It makes you feel like one of them, not a laowai.

Oh, and...

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