Saturday July 17, 2010

Thought for the Day: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” (Nelson Henderson; from Boldt, Zen Soup — Tasty Morsels Of Wisdom From Great Minds East & West, Penguin/Arkana, 1997)

Because it was Saturday we had no classes to teach. Martin and Kathy spent a quiet day in and around the hotel. Carol, Bob, JK, and Dick traveled in a rented van with Chris (the program assistant at the University who provides so much help for us). We rode for about 2.5 hours to a stone village occupied by people from one of China’s minority groups. The village is very old, and we had the impression of stepping back into life that is similar in many ways to life lived a couple of hundred years ago. Only very recently did any electricity or running water reach this village, and we could see small pipes running above ground for the most part and then entering houses, and electric wires running into the buildings. We had a delicious and much too large lunch with a young family who live in the village. After lunch the husband and wife sang two songs for us, and their five-year-old daughter sang an additional number. Bob and Carol each bought one of the hand-made items that they had for sale.

We then travelled to a small lake (Long Lake) surrounded by a park. We walked along the shoreline, sat in the shade, and talked for a while. After that we drove back toward Kunming and stopped at the Stone Forest, one of China’s remarkable natural treasures. Here great stones (formed from what was originally limestone at the bottom of an ancient ocean) create sharp towers and rocks of many different shapes. This is a truly fantastic landscape. We had an English-speaking guide — one of Chris’ former students; he was a delightful young man who has worked at the park for four years. We walked some distance through the park. After the hiking and climbing, some delicious chocolate ice cream truly “hit the spot.”

Chris parted from us when we left the park, so he could stay with his parents in a nearby village. Our faithful driver delivered us back to the hotel just in time for a 6:30pm dinner with Baoli, Kathy and Martin. It was a very full, busy, warm, and memorable day. Sleep came quickly.

– Dick

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