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Monday, August 01, 2005

Golf Outing

On every trip I have made, there is at least one day, one unexpected event that trips me up. Of course, on longer trips, there are usually several such days, and I suppose that these are the days that make travel such an insidious addiction. Today I played golf in China.

My host and another factory owner belong to a very nice golf club in ShunDe--I think there are two of them here. The course is well laid out, with plenty of water and sand traps (I should know - four balls in the water and God knows how many trips in the sand--I might as well have been at the seaside today). There are female caddies for every golfer and mine was a very nice 24 yr old who had little to no English, but knew what was up on the course. We chatted quite a bit between holes, and she gave me a bit of information about her life. She lived about 15 minutes from the course, and at most she might work 8 hours a day, maybe a bit more on the weekend. I don't know how much she made per hour, but tips generally seem to be about 20-50 RMB (about 2.50 - 6 USD)...I suspect they are probably more on the 20 RMB side.

Our round was cut short by a large rainstorm (maybe the only thing preventing me from going well over 100). As we played, I had more than a few moments of wondering a) what I was doing playing a round of golf that cost close to 100 USD, and b) the fact that not so far away from this beautiful, landscaped golf course are mudfields and construction and wild highways.

Perhaps part of the reason for my poor golf round was the massage I had yesterday. As I lay there being brutalized, I asked over and over again, why do people want to have this done to themselves? The were particular areas in my lower back and along my butt that at a touch sent waves of pain pulsating through me. The reward, of course, lay at the end, when I felt a bit like a rag doll must. Cost for massage, about 45 RMB, or less than 9 USD...not bad for an hour of torture!

Today we will, weather permitting, fly from the new airport in GuangZhou to Chengdu, and then on to Jiuzhaigou. We wil be there a few days, then drive down to Emeishan. From there, I will head out on my own to Chengdu and then on to points beyond. I will give an update on that when I have some idea. I think I may end up going to Lanzhou and then out west, for what may be the most isolated part of my trip, in the great deserts and space of Xinjiang Province, all the way out to the border areas with Mongolia, Russia, and several Central Asian countries. We shall see...

After a few days in China, one thing is becoming clear. It would not be a bad thing to live here if receiving a U.S. type salary. The food, at least at the places I have been so far, is diverse and tasty. The tea is delicious and there is something nice in the pre-eating routine of washing the rice bowl, the plate, and the chopsticks with your first cup of tea. Several people have stared at me, but not as many as I may have expected. A few random people have thrown out toasts at restaurants, and today a little girl waved at me as we drove away from the golf club. I suspect that the first few days here do not offer an accurate reflection of what I will experience when I am on my own, both in tourist areas and non-tourist areas. Regardless, a week after saying good-bye to my parents and to my girlfriend at the airport, the only thing I can complain of is the great absence I feel without her by my side. I am very thankful then, that I have spent these last few days with my former student and his parents. It has been fun teaching a bit again, teaching card games (though that makes me miss my gfriend more) and listening to him and correcting him as he makes his way through a Magic Tree House book. It has eased the transition a bit.

And so, I will say adios for now. Or more appropriately, zai jian, from Shunde, Guangdong Province, China.


Anonymous Mom said...

Fore! Were you the guest of your host at the course?
The contrasts you describe seem disorienting. Will your candor cause you problems, politically speaking?

(I was also quite upset to read about the deshelled turtles...) Stay safe, Alan.

1:43 AM  

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