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August 4th, 2007

flute person

China: an introduction

Posted on 2007.08.04 at 15:02
Clearly I have not written in this for a while. But I think that my fond memories of the "2007 Silk-Road Tour Of American College Students Arts Delegation Cheering For The Western Part Of China & The Cultural Exchange Activities With International Classic Music Public Show Both In Chinese And Foreign Language In Six Big Cities In The Western Part Of China" deserve a special place in cyberspace. By the way, that was literally the name of our tour; it was plastered on posters and programs throughout western China. I suppose the Chinese are not known for being concise. Anyway, these next few entries will be dedicated to recounting the highlights (and lowlights) of the trip. And seeing as how I don't have to leave for work for another hour, I might as well start now.

I woke up at 4:45 on July 5th, and my dad drove me to LaGuardia Airport in NYC where I met Jennifer. Flew about 2 hours to Chicago, then about 13 to Beijing. On the long flight I sat away from everyone, squished between 2 random men. I sleep about 10 minutes total. Read some Half Blood Prince to brush up before book 7 comes out. It's really hot & crowded in Beijing. On our bus ride to the hotel we recieve our introduction to Chinese driving. In the mighty words of Xun, "in China, there are no rules." Red lights? Pedestrians? What are those? Anyway, our Super 8 Hotel looks pretty crusty on the outside, but the inside is actually pretty nice. I'm rooming with Shawna...and will be for the rest of the trip. Then we have our first Chinese meal. All the meals are family-style, each table has a big lazy susan and they just put a bunch of dishes on it and you spin it around and take what you want. Everybody loves the Peking Duck...it's ok. Some kids are hitting the beer pretty hard. Back at the hotel, the beds are really low and really hard, but we're exhausted. Still, not a great sleep. Oh, and the handle on my suitcase is broken.
Day 2 in Beijing brought our first 2 factory tours!! The piano factory and the woodwind (ie clarinet) sweat shop both make me want to cry. Why are we here? The clarinet factory is such a shithole. And I almost got left at the piano factory because Jennifer wanted me to practice my piece with Tyler since we had never played it together before (and pretty much everyone else had been playing theirs at Music Naturally for 2 weeks). Doris tells them what's wrong with the bass clarinets, because she's Doris. Some crazy lady buys us all KFC which nobody eats, but we feel bad so we carry it all around the train station. This is where Shawna and I are introduced to the squatty. We go to pee but find no toilets, only a hole in the ground. We decide to wait, thinking that there absolutely had to be real toilets on the train, but we would soon discover the horrible truth. It was also a shock to see the setup of the overnight trains. Each car was divided into compartments of 6 beds each; 2 rows of 3 bunk beds. Then we find out that we would be sharing compartments with random Chinese people. Yay! But one of the ones in ours helped us put our luggage up..he was really cool. Anyway, this train ride was pretty much the worst part of the trip. We got on at 6:30 PM and were told that we'd be arriving in Lanzhou at 9AM. Yeah, well basically 9AM turned into 3PM. It especially sucked because we were completely unprepared for this train ride, meaning no one had taken a shower before it or brought an accesible toothbrush or deodorant or anything and we were all sweaty and gross from lugging our crap all over the disgustingly crowded Beijing station. Mmmm. They cancelled our concert for that night though. All we had to do was go to some banquet with the mayor.

That's enough for now. This is tiring.

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