After five months in China, we realize that there are so many things that we HAVE NOT done. We haven’t used the well-developed bike rental system, we haven’t gone to the Lei Feng Pagoda, we didn’t get to the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, didn’t make it to Beijing, the Yellow Mountain, the kilns in Ningbo, Tibet, and other places and sites.
We have been promising ourselves that we would walk around West Lake, which is probably the premier attraction in Hangzhou. But of course, there was always another obligation, or it was raining, or whatever. But we overcame our inertia today and decided to do it. Our plan was to go to English Corner, which is a weekly Sunday event at Park 6 in Hangzhou. Chinese people interested in improving their English-speaking skills show up there as well as English-speaking westerners, and the exchange begins. Regrettably, we could not find Park 6, so we never did find English Corner. It really sounds like a lot of fun.
Undaunted, however, we embarked on our mission to walk around West Lake. It’s about a 10-mile hike. It was hot and humid, and by the time we finished, my shirt was as wet as it is after an hour on the treadmill. It took us 3-1/2 hours. And while we finished exhausted, it was a great walk. It proved something to us: that we have the stamina to walk 10 miles at a stretch without stopping, something we will probably never be expected to do during any other travel experience. To that extent, it was wonderful to discover that we could do it. It encourages us to plan other vigorous adventures! (This is the benefit or regular workouts, triathlons, and a lot of brisk walks!)
As we ended out walk, the aches and pains were coming out–not so much from the walk, at least for me. It was more to do with the bed in the apartment. Chinese beds, for the most part, seem to be quite hard. We have experienced this in the apartment, and the cities of Lin Hai, Shanghai, Wuzhen, and Xitang. As the night wears on, my hips get more and more sore, such that I find myself walking like a stiff grandpa (save the wisecracks!). Fortunately, our walk ended before any ambulances were required, and we ended up walking into Eudora Station.
Needless to say, the draft Carlsberg more or less (mostly more) hit the spot. If you ever get to Hangzhou, you must go to Eudora Station. It has a wonderful menu as a respite from Chinese cuisine, although it does contain Asian dishes. We had nachos for the third time, which are spicy and include chili, I think. Quite tasty. Today, we had the New York Pizza, which was quite good. Previously, we have had the Texas Hot Pizza, which was also good. Char preferred the New York Pizza.
While we sat at Eurdora Station, we started to reminisce about our time in China, and it got rather emotional. We are days away from going home and days away from leaving wonderful new friends, and it is difficult to think about and difficult to do. It is hard to explain. While we are looking forward so much to seeing our children, two of whom have bought new homes while we have been away, and while we are so looking forward to seeing our grandchildren again, and while we so want to meet with our friends and try to convey how wonderful and exciting this sojourn has been and how it has enriched our lives–so, too, we feel the pain of leaving behind many wonderful and kind people, many experiences that cannot be described in words, the joy of being accepted and being invited into people’s homes, the discovery that all people, everywhere, want the same thing, that there is no Red China, but only the sweet and kind Chinese people who welcomed us and went out of their way to help us.
It is with these mixed emotions we sat at Eudora Station. My wife, for our anniversary, bought me three Cuban cigars. Oh, Man! I married the right woman.
Painful as it is to think about leaving China, so do we think about our next adventure. Fortunately, we have our health. We have waited for these years for many years, and now we must take advantage of them. I firmly believe we must go, somewhere, as often as we can. We have spent our lifetime so far raising our children, which has yielded us great benefit. Now we must learn about the rest of the world. We must travel. We must not be tourists. We must be travelers. We must learn about the people who share Earth with us.