It’s Work to be in GZ

Today we went to the Chen Clan Academy in GZ, a preserved, historical, and large former dwelling of a very well off Guangdong family. It was spectacularly beautiful, as was the art inside. It will certainly be part of the GZ tour for those who visit us.

We’ve re-established our routine since returning from vacation, but it’s very odd to vacation to the comfortable and return to the more exotic location. Usually it’s the other way around. I’m curious to see how we feel after our trips to Wuhan and Guilin.

Yesterday was a close call. My younger daughter’s foot got caught in my bike tire while riding home. She screamed in pain like I’ve never heard…so it was off to our first medical experience in China. Thankfully, by all accounts the ex-pat clinic was very good, and, despite severe bruising, there are no broken bones or, at this point, noticeable ligament damage.

The above two accounts (returning to the hardships of China and the day to the doctor) makes me want to make one point very clear (especially for those out there who think about living in China for an extended period)….While this is an amazing experience, it’s TONS of work to live in China, and it requires a TON of prep work in getting here. The doctor day went smoothly because I keep in my bag that I carry with me everywhere a printout of the addresses in Chinese and a map of the two ex-pat clinics, and have their phone numbers programmed in my cell. In addition, prior to arrival, I got the same of the pediatrician (a former US military pediatrician) at one of the clinics. With the name, phone number, and map in hand, I was able call, make an appointment for 45 minutes later with the doctor, and stick Andrea and my daughter in a taxi with the map and the address in Chinese. We also brought with us Kids’ Motrin, which the doctor prescribed and apparently said “I see that you’ve come to China well prepared.” This is just one example. Other include: not being able to communicate with our daughter’s teacher so we misunderstand what she needs, when she gets picked up, etc.; feeling the harm of environmental degradation (heavy breathing, dust) and compensating with Vitamin C powder, Neti pots, and hot tea; no seat belts anywhere. Again, this is not to say this isn’t a great experience, but it’s a lot of work.

Finally, having been in Asia for three months, I now feel that the world is smaller and it doesn’t seem to be a huge deal to travel to foreign countries or take a long flight back home or someplace new. I hope that this globalization will lead to better understanding and peace among civilizations. However, I grow increasingly aware of the massive cultural differences between those in different societies, and fear that technology is moving at a greater speed than cultural understanding. I fear (and I hope that I’m wrong) that globalization and this rapid contact between cultures will actually lead to more conflict. (Andrea informs me that this is called the “contact hypothesis.”)

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