Welcome

Creative Commons photo by James Marvin Phelps from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising, MI

Welcome to my blog.  The name My Resa is an English/Swedish combination in which resa means “journey.”  This is basically a way to share experiences with my far-flung family and friends and a sounding board for some of my crazy thoughts.  Please feel free to comment (think of it like Facebook).  To do so, just click on the speech bubble found at the bottom of the post you would like to comment on.

Note on Blogs: For those of you who are unfamiliar with blogs, the most recent post shows up first (with the exception of this one, because I “stickied” it).  So if you read it top to bottom, you’ll be going “backwards” in time.  If you want to read the posts in order, scroll to the bottom of this page, click over to the last page, scroll to the bottom, and read the posts in reverse.  (Yes, I know how weird that sounds.)  If you’d like to get email notification when I update the blog, just click on the email subscription link on the right side of the page.  Let me know if you have any questions about blogs.

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Book Recommendation: Lost on Planet China

If you’d like a great read on what it’s like to travel through China, I happily recommend the book Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid by J. Maarten Troost.  You can read a portion of the book here.  Troost visited many of the same places I did and he writes a pretty accurate and humorous portrayal of the things I experienced while in the Middle Kingdom.  It’s a great read.

China Slide Shows

The written posts you see here are only a fraction of my experiences in China.  To give you a bit more of a taste, I wanted to post links to some of the pictures I took while on the trip.  This way you can look at what you like.  These are Picasa slide shows.  You can operate the slide show with the controls at the bottom of the browser.  If you have any questions about what you see in the photos, just let me know.

Beijing

Xi’an

Guizhou Province

Lijiang

Shanghai

Pictures of me in China (in case you’re interested).

Shanghai – The Garden of Contentment

Email to Rory on July 14, 2009:

I am currently sitting next to a very large koi pond in the historic gardens and residence of a general. It is now a park. The gardens are very beautiful and at least a little different than the other gardens we have seen.

Yuyuan Garden, or "The Garden of Contentment."

The pond winds itself through the complex and is pretty cool. However, the Shanghai afternoon is anything but cool. I think it is somewhere in the mid to upper 90s with what feels like just as much humidity. More humid than AL, if that is possible. I caught a cold in the last city and my sinuses suck. Someone gave me some allergy/cold medicine and it has helped a bit. I got dehydrated while traveling yesterday and I just sort of feel icky and slow. But at least I haven’t had to go back to the hotel sick like two other people. Everyone else is mad dashing through the market area. I swear they are shopaholics. Some people have spent over $1,000 and a few spent $500 just at the first stop in Beijing. Me? I would much rather be sitting by this pond, writing to you.

The cicadas seem to be out in force here. Their sound starts up far away and just washes in like a wave. It is pretty cool, but very loud.

There are lots of different buildings in this garden, and a lot of the wall is a dragon sweeping his way around. Normally, someone would have been killed for including such a dragon in their garden. It was the imperial symbol and only the emperor could use it. But apparently this guy got away with it because his dragons only have 3 & 4 toes, instead of 5. That, and I think the emperor liked the guy.

I am starting to feel a little bit better sitting here, instead of running around. It is nice to just sit. We don’t do that often with the exception of meals and meetings. So I am really happy I decided to stay here by myself. It is very nice and worth it.

I have to go now and meet everyone near the second Starbucks we have seen in China. It is next to the Dairy Queen. Off I go!

Tourists feeding the koi.

Lijiang to Shanghai

Email to Rory on July 13, 2009:

I am writing from Shanghai now. I am pretty exhausted and I am getting a cold. Wireless isn’t going to work for me in the hotel and it costs about .45 cents a minute to use their business center.

Sign in the coffee shop across the way from our hotel in Lijiang.

This is supposed to be the most “cosmopolitan” city in China. So far it seems to be filled with high-end 5th Avenue type shops. I am hoping we focus more on the interesting history of the city and not go on shopping sprees.

I admit that I am tired and cranky tonight. Mostly it is the travel day, my cold, the prissy city, the 88 degree weather at night,etc. I am sure I will have a lot of fun, but I am just tired right now. Today our bus broke down in the mountains on the way to the airport. The driver couldn’t get out of first gear and then it died. We waited around for another bus to pick us up. We made it in time.

I am really exhausted so I am going to sleep now.

Did I mention there is a LOT of construction everywhere in China? :)

Lijiang – Exploring Old Town

Email to Rory on July 12, 2009:

We just had our last lecture from the scholar who has been with us on this leg of the trip. I think his area of focus is rather interesting. He is the one who looks at the intersection of changing a society to increase tourism and trying to preserve culture at the same time. Being here, I have really been able to see the connections with tourism in the Western US. Beyond the cowboy hats (which they do sell here), leather goods, yak instead of buffalo, etc., they seem to have a lot of the same underlying themes that sell in the American west. The Tibetans seem to fill the dual role of the cowboy and the nobel savage. There is that idea of a wild and romantic frontier. They play to the tourists who want to believe that everyone here still lives that old way of life. They make frontier life seem more “clean” and more ideal than it actually was. Those are just some rambling thoughts on the subject for now.

One of the many canals in the Old Town. Tourists buy the goldfish and release them into the canals.

It was foggy today, so no clear view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (you should search Google images and take a look at it). I feel like I got a decent view yesterday, even with the clouds, and it is taller than the clouds so I don’t feel as disappointed as some people. The mountains here are just awesome.

When I went back into the hotel last night, I found most of my colleagues in the courtyard. They were having quite the time, so I sat down and had a drink with them. However, I avoided the Chinese liquor some of them were drinking. That was the most foul smelling stuff I had ever seen. Imagine everclear type stuff that costs (and was probably not even worth) a dollar and you’ll have the idea. One bottle was called AK-47 with Che Guevara’s picture on it. Add that with the 7800 ft and there were some slow people this morning.

Last night before I talked to you I had sat on a porch with some people and drank Tibetan wine. I thought it was ok, but they were really excited to have wine from Tibet. My favorite part was the view over the rooftops and the softly lighted old part of the city with the mountains in the background. It was a beautiful view. I did take some pictures, but those never seem to turn out quite right. But is was a very good time.

Some friends walking down the streets of Old Town.

Well, I should probably go pack for Shanghai. I have loved this trip, but I am happy to be going to our last stop. I hope you had fun with George while I was sleeping. Have a good night!!

Lijiang – In the News

Group Email, sent July 7, 2009:

News while you are traveling is always sparse and fragmented, especially in my current situation.  I can’t read the Mandarin newspapers or listen to the Chinese news channels, and while prevalent in Beijing, English sources are now scarce.  I have gotten some inquiries from some of you concerning recent events in China.  I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know I’m doing well and everything has been going well for us.  While I am in Yunnan province, we are far enough away that we did not know there was an earthquake right away.  And while the organizers of the trip had originally planned for us to be in the city where the riots are occurring, we are not and will not be in that area (if we were, I’ve been told, we probably would have been quarantined and sent home).  So I just wanted to let you know that I am doing well.

I am currently in the highly popular local tourist destination of Lijiang.  It is sort of a Chinese “western frontier” town that was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1996.  It has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is a beautiful city in the eastern Himalayas.  I can see the beginning of the Tibetan Plateau on a clear day, with the Jade Dragon Mountain, which is over 18,000 ft.  The town is at about 7,800 ft.  Our tour guide described this small Chinese city of 200,000 as a “one horse town.”  The population density in China is just on a completely different level than the U.S.  Today we went out to a local farm and learned about the Naxie culture (pronounced Na-shee).  We also went to a nature conservancy in the wetlands and to a Naxie Opera.  It’s been a very good day.  It is pouring rain outside and I’m off to have my hot chocolate with my compatriots.  We are just across the way from our amazing hotel (old Chinese style with courtyards).  Feel free to let me know about any news (Tiananmen?), since my sources here are limited.  I hope you have a great day.

Locals performing resurrected Naxie music.
A Dongba Priest in training