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Friday, September 28, 2007

It's Certainly Been a Year

First, a glimpse of a Jilin sunset:

I was sitting in class this morning, tying to burn that damn Chinese language into my mind, half-thinking about the classes I was giving that afternoon, my mind returning to Tuesday's Mid-Autumn Festival potluck and jumping forward to the upcoming week-long National Day Holiday (week long National Day holiday? My kind of day!), when a strange series of thoughts struck me. I thought of this time last year, in Zhanjiang, when everything was new and fascinating, when I was going to Macau on my own and braving the wilds of solo travel for the first time, when teaching was just beginning to feel less like building a house during an earthquake while the wood's on fire. It's been a year, and my frame of reference, for the first time, is where I was this time last year in China, what I was doing this time last year in China. It slackens those threads of disconnect from home and winds tighter the knot of experience and living that is life, individuality.

It was a strange thought to mull over at 9:23 in the morning.

The Good and the Weird at our Mid-Autumn Potluck.

Tomorrow I begin my holiday travels. (I, but really, we: Kevin, James and myself, to be joined later by Jim and some friends from Jilin.) I will be leaving for Yanji, a small town in the far northeast of China. In Yanji is a strange mix of China and Korea, a blurring of culture and language and heritage, as well as a lot of wilderness to see and hike through in addition to a Korean Autonomous Prefecture to visit. The weather is brisk, but just warm enough to see the final lingering green of a fast-fading summer.

After a few days in Yanji, I'll (we'll) be heading southwest to the Changbai Mountains, a beautiful volcanic lake tucked within a broad range of "forever white" snow-capped peaks. This lake also happens to lap at the North Korean border, but don't worry (ahem, Dad): the Changbai Mountains are a popular (read: safe) tourist destination, and there's no way in hell I'd deliberately go to North Korea.

So I'll be out of touch for a few days. No news is good news, etc.

I'll leave you with some unfortunate frogs that were on the Mid-Autumn menu.


Grandma Teh said...

Matt: Enjoy your trip. Stay safe. We'll take care of keeping your father sane. Granny

Jimmy said...

Don't go by North Korea.

They kill stuff there.