In October, I flew to the city of Yanji in frozen Manchuria, with a small herd of people from language training on a mission to meet up with a tuberculosis-curing Doctor's Without Border's doc who, in a fit of boredom, had invited us to join her.
The trip, in the bracing cold of early winter in
province, was overwhelmingly blog-worthy. Briefly, in bullets: Jilin
-- The trip started on a deserted road just outside the airport, with the missionaries who claimed to be international art speculators, and with whom we hitched in from the airport after the door fell off our first cab and the owner of the remaining cab attempted to charge us 50 kuai for the 5 kilometer ride.
-- It continued on with the Sangria -- "you're going to want the small," they told us. "We'll take the large," we said, and were consequently served a massive crystal bowl filled with grape kool-aid, studded with chunks of fresh watermelon and, inexplicably, diced cherry tomatoes.
-- There was the hiking in a driving blizzard (Quoth the Engineer: "I kind of like this kind of misery -- so you can look back on it all later and say, 'do you remember when we asked the lord to take our lives from us, just to make the pain end?'") directly up a mountain to a crater lake, featuring a statue of China's own Loch Ness monster, which we climbed on top of like giddy elementary school kids before stopping in to the gas-stove-heated tent for ramen noodles.
-- And of course, the day-trip to the North Korean border, in which we, accompanied by a Chinese border guard, walked halfway down the bridge to the white line demarcating DPRK territory, and lined up our feet just inches shy of illegal entry into North Korean airspace, and then took pictures with the visiting South Koreans, hammered drunk at 3 in the afternoon, intoxicated on Chinese rice liquor and the joy of being South, rather than North Korean.
And none of that even mentions the round after round after round of glorious Korean food, or the market at which we went crazy buying toasted miniature almonds and candied ginger, and at which S bought the dried cuttlefish and then stored it in the vegetarian doc's room until the smell became so overwhelming that she dangled it out the window and dealt with the draft rather than the odor, or the 9 a.m. meat on a stick, or the strawberry waffles and milk tea, or any of the joys du moment which seemed to crop up so often on our scant 48 hour sojourn in Manchuria.
And despite all of the above, I was crippled by a complete inability to put any of it into cohesive paragraphs. I wrote four drafts of the Yanji blog. The first one was truly awful, and the remaining three were all fronted by paragraphs indicating that I was reaching the point of just throwing whatever I wrote on the blog and moving on with my life. But they were far too long -- page after tedious page, and all four of them made the entire Yanji experience sound tedious and annoying, rather then glorious and hilarious, as it was.
And suddenly three months have passed and I haven't posted a single thing on the blog. Plenty of blog-worthy things have happened, but every time I went to type them out I was cowed by the fact that before I could write anything, I had to finish the Yanji blog. Three months later, here we are. And since I have the world's worst memory, ever day I fail to write something more or less another day forgotten.
So I decided it was time to move past Yanji -- with apologies to Doc, now posted in
's rebellious Abkhazia province: it seems that beyond what's above, no blog on Yanji will ever be written. Georgia
And now there's the resolution, that weekly there'll be something on the blog. I can't promise it'll be good -- language training goes until June, and sucks up all of my time -- but there's plenty of China that needs mentioning, and it's high time I get back on the horse that threw me.
Posted by Dakota on 7:57 AM link |