Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Guilin, Chongqing and Dazu County
I'm fairly miserable at posting regularly on my blog, but I'll try to write for a bit here. Today we're in Chongqing (Chung King, pre-Pinyin). Tomorrow we'll be catching another train for Chungdu. Chungdu is a city where the poet Tu Fu lived and wrote a large number of his poems. He is one of my favorite two poets from the Tang Dynasty. I'm looking forward to seeing the cottage he lived in when he was in Chengdu. Also, there's a TexMex restaurant in Chengdu. One thing my experiences here in China have impressed upon me is that what seems incongruous is 100% a product of one's culture. Who says that TexMex doesn't belong in Chungdu? I've made my peace with the fact that expecting things to belong anywhere is a farcical prospect at best, and is incredibly silly the further you move away from your home country. For example, Erin and I just finished walking through the tight, windy streets of Chongqing's market area and I bought some socks. The sock store was in between a food vendor and a guy who sold giant koosh balls. I had no idea that I would find socks where I did, but it was magical when it happened and it seemed right.
One of my fears is that I'll move back to the states and forget this realization that expectations about where things should be and what people should be doing in certain places are socially constructed. I fear that it will be all too easy to slip back into the comfort of "knowing" what's going on. I like my intense, edgy sense of displacement over here. I think it's keeping my wits sharp and my instincts intact. I'll post some more photos of Guilin, Chongqing and Dazu Country. We took a bus trip to Dazu Country yesterday. The sculptures there are ancient. I wished that my friends Josh and Jeff could have been there, since they're sculptors themselves. Actually, it occurs to me that Kari, who I used to work with at the Red Door, and Alicia, who also worked at the Red Door, would have loved this place too. Sculptors of the world need to check this place out.