Taking In China's Lively Landscapes for the Last Time
Wendy Fong | Oct. 4, 2010
Fong and fellow PRIME student Alicia Lee at Yuyuan,
a classical Chinese garden..
Finally home, I can hardly believe that I am not in China anymore. Not only is San Francisco weather too cold for me to wear shorts, but everyone also speaks a language that I understand. Moreover, I am not sitting in a lab until it closes trying to write my dispatch.
Before bidding Beijing farewell, we were able to enjoy the beauty of China’s capital with our friends by visiting Miao Feng Mountain. Reaching Miao Feng Mountain required riding multiple buses, trudging away from the city center, and riding a car along a curvy road. The path leading up to the peak was initially shaded with specks of sunshine piercing through small openings between tree leaves. As we climbed higher, however, the trail broke into the open space of the mountain, with tall plants surrounding us on both sides. The view at the peak was stunning as we looked at mounds of green that disappeared into the distance. Lying on top of untrimmed grass, enjoying the sunshine and breeze, and telling stories and jokes, none of us wanted to leave. Miao Feng Mountain will definitely be one of my fondest memories.
We promptly left for Shanghai after our final presentation. The city, with skyscrapers touching the sky, is much more modern than Beijing. Flashing neon from Nanjing Road and lights shining along the Bund illuminate the night sky. The crowd at Yuyuan, a classical Chinese garden, and its adjacent bazaar, was both lively and overwhelming. If people were not trying to squeeze themselves onto the Nine Zigzag Bridge, they were moving with the current of the masses while straining their neck to look at the towering buildings or goods being sold on the side.
Top: the Pudong skyline at night
Bottom: Nightlife on Nanjing Road.
Yet, nothing could have matched what we were to experience at the World Expo. The showcases inside the pavilions were impressive with many cultural screenings creatively designed to be educational. Long lines formed before sunrise, probably before I was even able to open my eyes for the day. Ignoring the words the guards uttered about not running, people pushed past them and ran for the gates. The queues for the pavilions stood still, then broke out into brief movements marked by excessive pushing, resulting in bodily contact made worse by all of our stickiness. This is also where I learned that an old woman can possess the strength of ten oxen. As one volunteer put it, the Expo is a “tough game to play.”
Although this trip has come to an end, I will not forget what I have learned anytime soon. I have gained valuable research experience as well as grown as a person. My friends have not only inspired me to be kind and patient in any situation, but also taught me to appreciate all the privileges that I have in the United States. I have learned a lot about Chinese culture that I never would have known if I had not stayed in China for 10 weeks. While I hope to return one day soon, I also hope that my friends will come visit me in America. This summer has been a fulfilling one. Words cannot express how grateful I am for the people who have given me the opportunity to participate in PRIME.