Reflecting, Remembering, and Returning

My colleagues of SABEH and I embarked on a wonderful week of touring three cities in China; all of them as beautiful as they are different. We left Zhoushan Island after a week of collaborative teaching and learning with our Chinese counterparts. We traveled on a comfortable air conditioned bus driven by Mr. Xu accompanied by a very delightful and well informed guide, Jackie, who had meticulously choreographed our itinerary from dumplings to Tea!

Our first stop was in the city of Hangzhou where we visited the Hangzhou Longjingshan Tea Cultural Village. We enjoyed a walk in the garden and then had a wonderful and informative tea ceremony. The green tea was delicious as well as we learned - healthful.

We continued onto West Lake where we took a boat tour of the lake and a leisurely walk to view the large and very beautiful lotus flowers. Our team of teachers were quite taken by the beauty and colors while reflecting on the symbolism of the lotus flower.

Back on the bus we were whisked off to Lingyin Temple, or Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, where we visited the temple to gaze upon the images of the Four Heavenly Kings who stand on either side of the Maitreya, a laughing Buddha with a huge belly, who is said to be able to take away the sadness of people wherever he travels.

After 2 days in Hangzhou we again boarded our bus and headed to Nanjing. We drove down streets lined by the gnarled trunks of parasol and ginkgos trees that shaded streets from the punishing summer sun. We arrived at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Aggression, where we learned about the atrocities inflicted on its citizens through impressive statuary, artifacts, testimonies and photographs from that period. We concluded our tour of the museum with a visit to Peace Park where people come to pray for world peace while remembering those who lost their lives.

While in Nanjing we visited Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum at the foot of Purple Mountain. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is considered to be the “Father of Modern China”. We all grabbed our sun-umbrellas and ascended the 300 steps to the mausoleum on a very hot sunny day. The view from the top was incredible and worth the climb.

Back on the bus and off to Shanghai for sightseeing on the Bund and for shopping. First a tour of the Pearl Tower and a walk on the glass walkway above the Bund. Later we walked along the Bund admired the skyscrapers and visited a store featuring jade jewelry.

On one of our last nights in China we were fed a wonderful dinner and entertained by a live performance of the Face-Changing Sichuan Opera. The next day we were off to Tianhou Silk Factory where we learned about the amazing silkworm and shopped for silk products. We were back on the bus for a visit to the Shanghai Art Museum to appreciate wonderful examples of Chinese art. After a visit to the museum’s gift shop we boarded the bus and headed to Tianzifang in the Old French Quarter where we indulge our shopping passions.

For our final night, we gathered at a rooftop bar to celebrate our good fortune at being invited on this wonderful journey in China. We toasted each other against a background of light and color that is the skyline at the Bund and vowed we would definitely be returning next summer as SABEH teachers.

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