After four days in Xi’an the group took a high speed train to Taigu. Taigu is a much smaller, more rural town and this is where we are going to live at school in dorms once again just like the first week.
Today is actually day 4 or 5 in Taigu, however, this is my first post because there is no internet access for students in the dorms like there was in Chongqing. In fact, a lot of things are worst about this leg of the trip regarding the school. First, the basic lack of amenities such as internet, hot water, and access to basic spaces like the laundry room and kitchen are very jarring; this is especially so considering that the first school in Chongqing is the same school and all of these were provided.
Additionally, this school is hyper-conservative to a dangerous level. At 10:30 every single night, including weekends, every single dormatory door is locked with chains and padlocks. The argument on the school’s behalf is that they are protecting the students, though this couldn’t be farther from the truth. A fire, earthquake or similar emergency could easily kill hundreds of students as they claw to escape their “safe” prison.
Aside from the pollution, dangerous living conditions and oppressively conservative culture here the classes and tours have been lacking much interest as well, though there are jems. The tours in Xi’an were full of religious sites which were beautiful, even if heartbreaking to exit through a gift shop just after praying at am ancient site. Taigu’s most recent trip with to an ancient walked City full of high watch towers and maze like court yards. Unfortunately, even though this is a respected historical site and tourist attraction the location still manages the be extremely polluted and dirty. The smell of feses is around every corner and from the highest tower one can not see more than a couple miles away. To top of the experience we discovered a young dog in the middle of a bustling courtyard as it convulsed and failed to stand after countless attempts. Hundreds of people a minute passed this animal and an equal number of people averted their eyes. The Americans wanted to do anything from fairing together cash for getting it a vet or even just to put the animal down but we were told to walk away and forget about it.
On the bright side, we saw a beautiful interactive play that same day. People move from one giant space to another as a story unfolded literally all around us about soldiers forced to leave their wives for war and the decades to follow. While it would have been nice to understand more than a few words that are spoken, the emotion was powerful enough to cut through the language barrier, bringing back to mind my unforgettable time with the Chongqing monk.
Today is a new day, our first class just ended and I am sitting in a coffee shop enjoying the most alone time I have experienced in weeks. Tonight there will be a party thrown by the school in honor of the graduates and foreign guests. Im sure it will be a lovely experience.
The four Irish students will not continue the journey into Beijing after this final school portion is completed. While I have been improving my Chinese and enjoying the gratitude check, my Irish friends have been great fun and I will be sad to see them go. Fortunately, they have invited my American friend and I to visit this summer and I fully intend on capitalizing on that offer!
Time for lunch which means delicious veggie steamed buns that cost pennies on the dollar :p 再见朋友。