Monday, November 21, 2011

Try-Umph Travels: China

My time in China was a bit of a whirlwind. In six days I visited Hong Kong, Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. I traveled by boat, bus, and via airplane. When my six days ended I was tired and extremely grateful to return to the ship that’s been home since August. Still, if you asked what I would have changed about my hectic schedule I would tell you not a single thing.
The ship docked in Victoria Harbour on a gorgeous morning. Hong Kong’s skyline is beautiful, inspiring, and unbelievable. As we waited for the ship to be cleared by immigration, I stood in awe of the little island with enormous impact. The skyscrapers were mountains of prosperity. Boats of all shapes and sizes floated by. I took pictures, but none of them capture the fullness of what I felt looking out over the harbor.

I got off the ship and headed on a tour of Hong Kong. It wasn’t long before I was in a cable car heading to the top of a mountain taking in the view of the entire harbor. After spending time getting a top-down view, I headed to the bottom of the mountain and boarded a small boat that would allow me to tour a floating fishing village called Aberdeen. I left the small boat and boarded the last handcrafted traditional Chinese junk built in Hong Kong. A Chinese junk is a sailboat. The one I boarded had red sails which made it regal. Seeing the Hong Kong skyline at night from the Chinese junk was incredible. Once again, none of the pictures I took could adequately convey how magnificent Victoria Harbour was at night. It was amazing.

The next morning I headed to the airport for Beijing. The first major attraction I visited in Beijing was the Great Wall of China. This marvel is 5,500 miles long! As I carefully walked the unbelievable man-made structure, I couldn’t imagine the fortitude, patience, and physical strength it must have taken to build such a massive piece of history. Its mere presence reminded me of the sheer willpower we all possess when we are determined and focused.

My day continued with a visit to the Summer Palace. I loved the views of this royal garden, especially having Kunming Lake in its backdrop. The next day was filled with visits to more historical sites. The Temple of Heaven is lovely. It’s a park that has temples and is filled with open green space and trees. When I arrived there were groups of people dancing, exercising, and playing cards, chess, and dominoes. It was refreshing to see so many people outside enjoying life.

A couple of Tai Chi instructors gave us a quick lesson. I copied their physical movements, but what will stick with me far longer is what an instructor said. He shared that our exterior should be soft, but our interior should be strong. After leaving China and it’s magnificent structures I thought about the concept of a soft exterior and a hard interior. This isn’t meant to inspire weakness or an inability to stand up. I understood this teaching to push me toward maintaining more strength, commitment, and power in the area that matters most. It is far more logical, important, and necessary for me to be strong in mind and heart. As the years pass and I continue to look over my pictures of the beauty of China I will always remember the importance of interior strength. Next stop, Japan!

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