I spent the last week in Anshun. When we arrived, officials from the college brought us to see our apartments. I live on the 5th floor of one building and Bethany lives on the 2nd floor of another building. We were then collected for a meeting with the vice president, foreign affairs people, teachers and, of course, a translator. Our translator, Charley, spent the week helping us get accustomed to life in Anshun. It is a small town by Chinese standards (we found out there are about 1/2 million people) and the college is set about 30 minutes away in the country. Charley helped us with everything. We ambled along and quietly mentioned things: "Bank account?" Done. "Good place to eat?" Let me introduce you to the owner. "Bus lines, maps, sites, attractions, how-tos, why is thats, etc..."
Early in the week I began to feel dizzy and I had trouble walking without feeling a little ill. My symptoms got worse and I collected more throughout the week (sore throat, chest pain, coughing, runny nose, sore muscles, nausea) and I called the medical office in Chengdu during my visit. The second half of the week I was in my apartment, drinking liter after liter of water and studying Chinese. I am better now! Unfortunately, I believe Bethany may now be sick...
We found a batik shop that does batiks by hand. Some of them take weeks to make and they are huge. The shop was dedicated more to the 'art' of creating the batiks than to making money because they take the time to make the batiks by hand rather than running cloth through a printer. I imagined a shop like this existing in America and I could only see dollar signs. I can't imagine a city without a traditional Chinese batik shop.
Anshun's outskirts are defined by green, hilly farms and small villages. We walked up through a very poor village and around a reservoir. The people are very friendly and warmly welcome a smile accompanied by a "Ni hao!" On and around campus I am reminded, perhaps, of the foothills around the Cascades or the small drive from Forest Grove to Gales Creek. From the window in the back of my apartment I can see two large dormitory buildings, a track and soccer field, and basketball courts, all signs that this will be transformed into a college campus once the students arrive. In the middle of my reverie something catches my eye: a man with a straw hat drives a family of water buffalo across the basketball courts and they move slowly, swinging their tails as they go.
The train on the return trip was painful. We left Anshun at 7 p.m. and arrived in Chengdu at 5 p.m. the next day. The trip was long, hot, sweaty, and cramped. The only thing that saved me from insanity was the clickedy-clack of track ties which repeatedly put me to sleep. The green hills disappeared overnight and then farms made way for buildings. We were back "home." Enjoy the photos.