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I have overdressed for the train.  Metal boxes characteristically placed under the windows pump out more heat than any of us have been used to for the past two months.

Trains have a sense of place of their own.  They are a historic reckoning of the past and yet they are accelerating into the future.  The older trains in China could be placed in the 1930s, yet they are organized and clean and China’s main form of transportation.  This train is full.

Down the car a father and son throw nuts at each other. The elder has an air of responsibility. The younger is excited about this adventure, and radiates youthful curiosity.

Like this young boy, I too am eager for this escapade and, wide-eyed, watch China pass by the windows.  Out here is countryside I have never seen before.  There are hills made of loose sediment that rivers of the past have contoured and curved, and where now step terraces for small plots of rice. Here there are strange juxtapositions of little girls in bright down jackets walking along the foot-paths that feather veins through the hills.  It is hard to spot the small villages from the train, for they are built of the same russet earth.  Only the painted communist slogans set the houses apart.  I wonder how this land shapes its people and who they are to have chosen long ago this strange country for their home.

Cherry blossoms and magnolia trees bring new life and a spot of color to grey Qufu…

It has been a while. And for this I apologize.  I have been processing two months of wild adventure through Asia, trying to make it have some sense.  But I shouldn’t be so naïve as to make that happen.  Asia is chaos, it is confusing and quixotic.  And like all travel in my life, it has led me closer to home.  I’ve realized that Gloucester is where the journey started and where the journey will end someday of course with visits back scattered here and there.  But about five years ago I got in my car and drove around America and realized that the road is my real home.  Since then, every few weeks I feel a tug at my soul to get started again.  And the pull increases until I finally do.

Anyhow, enough about that.  The next few entries will be elaborations on some writing I did while traveling.  Enjoy…

Also, here’s an interesting quote from one of my student’s writing:

Many countries in the world are afraid of Chinese developing.  Do the American think so?  Many articles say that the future belongs to USA and China.  I don’t think so.  Although developing very fast in the past few years, China have a lot to solve and what’s more, China will never invade others n past or future.  It’s a tradition.  If China were the strongest country in the world, what she wants to do is how to keep harmony with other.  Our ancestors taught us two characters.  One is to tolerate, and the another is harmony.  So what I think about American’s attitude towards Chinese develop may be positive.  Is that right?

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