Friday, January 18, 2008
A brief description of our trip can be found in the first post on this blog, here
On the whole, this trip was fun. It was challenging to travel in China with no ability to speak Chinese, and to arrange our hotels and transport as we went. However for the kids, I would could in future break the trip up a little more with additional day activities that allowed for running and climbing.
The scenery in China everywhere we went was spectacular, and although I found almost all of China grimy, with thick, grey air and dust everywhere, it was much cleaner than on our last trip 14 years ago. There is very little rubbish in the streets, and most of the public toilets we used were clean. The Chinese do not seem to seem to care about clearing away rubble from building sites and there is so much demolition and re-building going on that this also contributes to the feeling of chaos.
We ate in the streets often, and only experienced a couple of mild doses of upset tummies. General hygiene practices do seem to have improved.
There were far fewer police and army evident as we traveled around than I remember from last time.
The people were mostly friendly: a 'thank you' in Chinese makes them happy you have tried their language. Prices are almost always written or entered onto a calculator. If you look lost, someone with a little English will often volunteer to help but you do need to be prepared to get by by pantomiming, jesturing, and pointing to phrases in a book.
Tom was fussed over everywhere. If the Chinese thought he was under-dressed for the weather they scolded him and me. They patted his head and gave him food and pinched his cheek. If he said hello or thank you in Chinese they laughed delightedly. In general he took everything in his stride. He happily raced off through crowds without fear and did not treat anything or anywhere as strange or unusual.
I think Jack appreciated the trip but was disappointed we didn't manage to pick up many cheap games for him. He is old enough to appreciate travel in a foreign country, spectacular scenery and new experiences, but young enough to get bored by the constant travel and lack of play time. He is turning out to have an exceptional sense of direction, and whenever we stopped to get our bearings he was always right about which way we should head.
The next trip - I would just like to add a few 'wind-down' days at the end, and maybe a couple in the middle. We were on the go so much that one day blurred into the next after a while (part of the reason I started this diary).
I've now uploaded my photos to Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=12575&id=703192551