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PBDA China Partnership 2019: Why We Travel
Posted on: March 12, 2019
8:05 p.m. – Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, PRC
Travel can be hard. Wait, scratch that. Travel must always be a cinch; otherwise, why would anyone keep doing it?
Well, there are the people we meet—or get to see a new side of along the way. Today, we said a warm goodbye to our Hong Kong guide Wai Tek (a.k.a. “Elton”). That’s weird, right: getting emotional about the guy whose job was to arrange transportation and point out important sights? But Elton was warm, supportive, and funny—asking about our lives back home, making us laugh when our energy was flagging, or advocating for us at a restaurant. In a big city like Hong Kong, it was certainly encouraging to get to know someone like him.
Similarly, the day gave some of the students a chance to meet new versions of each other and themselves, whether through braving a conversation in Chinese in the ticket line for Guilin, keeping their cool through the pressure of immigrations, swimming through a sea of commuters who were anxious to board as we attempted to de-board, or trying a new food at the dinner table or market. (Yum! Spicy duck tongue!)
In addition to people, the places we visit can be so awe inspiring, you just must see more. The famous Karst Mountains announced our approach to Guilin as if raised fingers waved us into town. Then we dove a little deeper (literally) into the limestone Reed Flute Cave, which seemed to hang the mountain’s digits upside down in the cool of the mountain—a handy place, as it turns out, for rebels to hide from Tang Dynasty armies or refugees to flee Japanese soldiers during World War Two.
Of course, getting there is half the fun, especially when you have a 370 kilometer-per-hour bullet train to cruise you there in comfort, at least more comfort than the flight over, according to one student. In addition to the digs, the trip also provided ample educational opportunity to witness the breadth of economic growth currently occurring across southern China, as building cranes and highway construction filled the landscape.
As it turns out, there are lots of good reasons to travel.