January 2, 2011
This Christmas I went with a family in my congregation to another providence in China, named Guilin. They left a day earlier than me to visit another tourist site, while I stayed to return the following day to Shenzhen and work. Near the hotel where I stayed there is mountain with a moon shaped arch. In the morning of my last day there, I woke early to hike the trail to get a closer view. There were probably twenty old Chinese ladies aggressively selling bottles of water, juice, soda, and post cards. I am such a push over that I ended up buying two bottles of water, mango juice, and four sets of post cards. I am now the proud owner of fifty post cards. I would mail one to you, but the postage would cost more than all the post cards combined.
There was a particularly industrious and shrewd lady who repeatedly encouraged me to go look at this famous tree. She told me the name, but I can no longer remember it. I am confident that she told me there was an inexpensive bus that could pick me up at the base of the mountain and take me there. I stood with this old lady, surrounded by a gaggle of 70 year old, worn Chinese women, on the side of the road for a less than 3 minutes when she is hit with inspiration. She get her rusty bike, hitches on a 3 by 5 foot trailer, and tells me to climb on board.
So there I was, being pulled by a 5 foot tall, 90-pound, 70 year old woman. My fellow pedestrians stared with wonder, and I was afraid that someone would call the authorities to report a case of abuse of the elderly. Less than a mile later we come upon a sign for a cave. She is about to have a cardiac arrest, so we decide that I should check it out. The things I could say about this cave. It is unbridled capitalism at its best or worst; I am unsure what adjective to use. After a harrowing experience with neon lights and cheap jewelry, I climb back on my ride, and we’re on the road again.
After she burned another 500 calories, we arrived at our destination. Twenty Yuan later, I saw an old tree that has grown in a cool shape and float around on an unmanageable bamboo raft with a long pole. To end our excursion she peddles me back to the initial site. Halfway back her face is damp with sweat, and I do her a favor and start waking. She was amiable woman with an impressive command of the English language. I took a picture of her to remember her by.