Sunday, December 07, 2008

Old Taishan, New Taishan

It was obvious to us that Beijing 2008 was going to be very different from the city we experienced four years ago. The Bird's Nest. The Water Cube. Blue sky days. The list could go on and on, thanks, of course, to the Olympics.

But what about average, everyday China? What about an out-of-the-way place like Taishan? Would it be like stepping into a time warp? Or would the place be unrecognizable to us?

The overall answer? Taishan today is very much like the Taishan of 2004. We'll be hitting the highlights in other posts...busy streets filled with motorbikes, dim sum twice a day, the river, the main pedestrian shopping mall.

Speaking of shopping, the most visibly striking change in Taishan has been the addition of two huge plazas, right in the center of town, taking the place of an old amusement park and an equally downtrodden movie theater. A definite plus for the good people of Taishan.

On the minus side, we were disappointed, although not at all surprised, to find that Cloud Nine, our favorite place to sip gongfu cha, did not stand the test of time. Luckily, right across the street, is a restaurant that essentially replicates the Cloud Nine experience. No need to be oolong-deprived!

One thing, however, you cannot replicate is people. And here is where Taishan has, quite naturally, changed the most. The Kangs were not with us in Taishan. Xiao Ming and family have moved to San Francisco. Lili lives in New York City. Others we met in '04 now call Ohio their home. It was funny for us four wayward Americans to spend a few days bumming around this great little town while so many its former residents now live and work on the other side of the world. For us, weirdly enough, the best way to see our favorite Taishanren is not to spend a year in China, but to go on another one of our cross-country trips...



At 12:37 AM, Blogger Marrrrrrina said...

Hello to you adventurous 4 Balla's!
This is not a reply to this posting, but a way to find you. I don't believe I have updated emails for you at the moment. It sounds as though you have all acclimated to life in China. I love your stories, all of you! I'm just wondering if anyone might just possibly be interested in having a visitor from the good ole USA... I don't know if you have the desire, the room , or time for a visitor though...
Kent and I just got back from climbing the pyramids just outside of Mexico City (a city of 18 million). No big deal for you! We were gone for Thanksgiving so we made it up today with my parents. We did the whole turkey with most of the trimmings. Your Uncle Henry just had 2 stents put in his heart last month so has to tweak his diet a bit. So we were thankful for good health this year as well as so many other things. I think about you guys all the time and have checked up on you now and then on your blog. Amazing stories! I am just so proud of you (and quite a bit jealous) for living out such a big adventurous dream. You guys rock! Anyhoo, please know you are all loved and thought of often. Send a jot when you get the chance. Lots of Love, MarshmallowMarina


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