I recently participated in a twitter chat called The Road Less Traveled. Every week it brings together travel enthusiasts under the hashtag #TRLT. This last week I shared a bit about some of my travels in China and I thought I would share them here as well. In the process I might also be able to right a wrong.
Back in the late ’90s I spent a year in China. I managed to see several sights during that time, but one of the most memorable was the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. The Yangtze River flows from the mountains of Western China to the ocean. It is a wide river in the eastern side of China, but it narrows in the west and runs through some spectacular scenery. Now there is a dam across the Yangtze which has widened the river considerably, but when I was there it was narrow and rocky. Sheer cliffs rose up on each side. It was magnificent.
Although I had been in China for about five months, my knowledge of Chinese could charitably be described as sketchy. I could understand a few words, but most of the time I had no idea what anyone was saying. For example, when I bought the tickets in Chongqing all I really understood was the price and the city where I would get off the boat. The next morning the boat stopped and everyone got off. One of the men I shared a room with waved me forward. We came to a place where a girl with a megaphone waited. As it turned out, I had bought a package which included guided tours whenever the boat stopped. These guided tours consisted of me following the group around understanding nothing but, “You may now take pictures.”
The river cruise lasted five days. It was relaxing and beautiful even though the ship wasn’t exactly luxurious. I will spare you those details. I was the only foreigner on the boat meant that a lot of people wanted to talk to me. My limited language ability made most of these conversations short and frustrating. Still, by the end of the cruise everyone on the boat accepted me as the resident lao wai (foreigner) and I suppose they enjoyed my company.
Enough about me though. I’ve got a wrong to right. On the last day of the cruise one of the tour guides asked if she could take a picture with me. This was nothing new. People would often ask this question. It was weird when it first happened, but I learned to roll with it. I usually just pretended like they were a long lost friend or something. It gave me a tiny taste of a celebrity’s life, I guess. This girl gave me her address and made me promise to send her a copy of the picture. This was back in the days of film cameras. Some of you younger readers might need to Google that.
I gave her my word that I would mail her a copy. She must have asked me three or four times. Each time I promised I would and I really meant to. I had great intentions, but somewhere between leaving the boat getting the pictures developed I lost her address. That’s right: I lost it and she never got her picture. I felt terrible but there was no way to right my wrong. I can post the picture now, though. So here you are, Chinese girl whose name I never knew. Here is the picture, and I’m sorry I lost your address.
Maybe it’s for the best. I mean, it’s not like I’m anybody famous. It’s just a guy in a Cabelas shirt and plaid shorts. Still, I wish I could have sent it. It’s funny how this problem would never occur today. We could have just used her cell phone. At least now I can post it, better late than never.
If you want to know more about The Road Less Traveled, click on the names below. You will get some great stories and meet some interesting people.