In late March I was in China for two weeks, first teaching writing at the amazing Western Academy of Beijing, then sightseeing with the help of good friends Don and Donna Jepson-Minyard.
There were many standout moments in the visit, both minute and magnificent. Overall impression? China is a country filled with large contradictions — the beauty of a stellar blue-sky day on the Great Wall in contrast to off-the-charts air pollution indexes in Beijing, elders performing tai chi in placid unison in the park compared to bedlam traffic on the streets a few meters away, wealth measured in Mercedes and stiletto heels alongside gritty life on the equivalent of a dollar a day, a traditional arch framing the golden arches (spot it in the above photo), warm smiles and friendly chatter set against the knowledge that Big Brother is indeed watching.
Of course life everywhere has its contrasts, but in China they seemed to carry more weight, and so somehow be more impactful. Which, of course, is why I love the adventure of travel; it stretches my concepts. In this case it also reminded me to be grateful for what I have come home to — freedom of speech, for example, to write whatever story moves me.