As I sit here in China trying to capture just a brief glimpse for the people in Harlan, I am overwhelmed. There is so much to say so much to share so much to try and capture with the limitations of language.
First things first, China is bigger than you can imagine. During our time in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City it was estimated that there were as many people in these two sites as live in the Omaha. Much like WashingtonD.C., Beijingis the capitol of China and is as much a destination for the Chinese as D.C. is for Americans. The line to see the entombed Mao Tse Tung was at least ¾ of a mile lone and the people were 5 across in line.
Traffic is bigger. On average it would take us an hour and 30 minutes to get anywhere in Beijing. On one occasion it took us an hour to go 2 miles in the traffic. I wish there were a way to capture how chaotic traffic is yet it seems to have a flow of its own that makes sense to the Chinese. The best way to understand it would be to try and follow a red blood cell around your body. That cell has a purpose and direction but there is not a clear, direct path to get there yet somehow it gets to where it needs to be without crashing into every other cell out there. At one time we headed the wrong way down a section of the interstate without a singe horn, glare or other gestures in return.
The Great Wall is truly bigger. There is a reason this is on of the man made marvels in the world. This is my second time to the wall and I am still in awe of it. The pitches and inclines that the wall was built on are a feat of engineering that I cannot even begin to understand how they did what they did when they did it. I could understand given our modern technology how we could build such a thing today but not back then.
The poverty is bigger. We are in a village about 10 miles from the outskirts of Beijing and the conditions that the villagers
live in are at a much lower level than I have experienced before. There is a very clear difference between the China
that benefited from the move to the open market system and the China that has not yet caught up. In our village (yes even their villages are bigger…the one we are in is roughly 30,000) very few homes have running water and they share communal commodes. Roughly every 3 blocks there is a public restroom that is shared by the community which is where they get their
Of course the food was incredible, even for this meat and potatoes guy. Authentic Chinese food is really good. At one of our
nicer meals we were served 18 dishes for 13 people. Hot and spicy green beans, chicken in peanut sauce, kung pao chicken,
delectable little pastries in a sweet sauce, beef and noodles, chicken spicy soup and some vinegar infused sprouts. Some of our group also went way out of the norm and ate some donkey meat sandwiches, pig intestine, cow stomach, crunchy sea horse, scorpion and these incredible candy coated fruit on a stick.
I was saddened by just how westernized China has become. The only place we were not overwhelmed by the westernization of
China was in the village. On every trip into Beijing we saw a Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC (the Chinese love KFC), Nike stores, and even a GAP. But is goes beyond that. At one point in time on the interstate we were passed in succession by 2 Audis, a BMW, a Bently, and a Mercedes Benz. If you want to know why your gas prices are going up you only have to know that the Chinese are roughly adding 10,000 cars a week to their roads.
Next time, I will be sharing about faith in China.