Back in the day...

…when field trips are the best part of your school year. Still holds true here in China. We just went on an overnight field trip in Western Sichuan. Glorious if only for the fact that we did not have to plan a moment of any of it. So good.

Reno has a fall. You can drive down the street in late October and see trees changing color. But going to Dongla Canyon, it really doesn’t seem to compare. Dongla Canyon and the surrounding area has these splashes of color that I only associate with falls in New England. Not that I have ever been to New England, but we’ve all seen those images on television, right? It was really stunning. The air was clean. The air in Chengdu most days is okay. But there are those days where the pollution hangs low over the city and walking just isn’t the most pleasant experience and you see how dirty everything is. But going out to the canyon was a little bit purifying. Who knew? =)

My friend Lizzy, from a distance.

We stayed in a hotel outside of the canyon right by the Qingyi River. Our sheets were really damp. Our rooms smelled like river. And it gave us a fair idea of what Chengdu will be like when it gets colder. The name Sichuan derives from the characters "four" and "rivers." Can't really beat a name like that. lol I gotta say, the hostels we stayed at during our Yunnan trip were nicer. Endorsed by Ailene. But it was a lot of fun just standing there and talking to my classmates, especially those that I don’t necessarily get to see as often. That night, there was also a group of Chinese men and women gathered around a bonfire in the middle of the courtyard, who basically serenaded us to sleep. They sang both Tibetan and Chinese songs. You could tell that this close knit group of people truly enjoyed each others company and their heritage. Just another memory to store away.

The next day, we had the chance to explore Qiaoqi Tibetan Village and Shenmulei Scenic Area. The Tibetan village was unlike any other Chinese city that we have been to. ( I keep on saying that, and I keep on being surprised. But I mean, just like in the United States right? Every city and town has its own personality.) This was an area where horses are still used for both manual labor and transportation. We were also not bombarded by humanity. Hidden up in the mountains, you would never think to go here unless you knew that it was there. The roads can be pretty bumpy and the ride a little bit nauseating, but it was really worth it. The fact that there weren’t a lot of people around kind of made it seem like it was all staged, but people live here. This is a way of life. We were just passing through. Just more of those foreigners with cameras who they will never see again.

Off to the Scenic area where I went up the wrong path. Obviously the wrong path since I had a small fear of being run over by horses who were being herded. But it was neat. Exercise. And more stairs. And picking my way through the horse poop. A pretty good summary of Shenmulei. I was spoken to as if I was a Chinese National again. Next time, busting out some Cantonese. At least then I can respond as if I don’t understand. Which I don’t. Solutions! But Mandarin is still coming slowly but surely.

I won’t be anywhere near fluent by the end of my journey here. But the will is there. And the possibilities of coming back are presenting themselves to me every day. It’ll get there. That’s the goal. And that’s all for today.

Until next time. 再见!

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