Friday, February 27, 2009

Our Country Excursion

We set off this morning after another delightful evening with the host families. Haley's story of being served Pringles for breakfast made us all start the day with a smile. We traveled to Dujiangyan, the site of a historical wonder of a 2000 year old irrigation system that still provides water for the Chengdu Plain. We anticipated being impressed by the engineering, but no one foresaw the natural splendor that would surround us for the morning. Lush gardens, aqua green water, and ancient temples set in the mountains were in every direction.

We crossed the giant river over a suspension bridge to look more closely at the temple there. The kids loved the challenge of balancing on the swaying bridge.

Much of the temple was being restored due to the recent earthquake in the area. It was hard to not be awestruck by the impact of this natural event when regarding this national treasure. Earlier we had noted the effects of the earthquake on modern buildings in the downtown of Dujiangyan. Many windows were broken and the walls of the buildings had large cracks. Many buildings had been abandoned and are waiting for reconstruction.

Following our tour of the irrigation system, we dined at a local restaurant. Students were hungry after all the walking. Our chopstick skills prove that we have been in the country for more than a week.

There was an Orchid Expo taking place in a town nearby. Upon entering the orchid fair, it was clear we were entering yet another world. People enthusiastically snapped photos of the flowers and were appreciating their delicate and rare beauty. Our group was even filmed for the local TV channels. Our celebrity status seems to continue.

This was our first opportunity to see life beyond the city of Chengdu. The students enjoyed seeing the fields of bright yellow flowers, the rush of bicycle and motor scooter traffic, not to mention vehicles laden with various materials. Sites of rural living gave us a new side of China to consider. We returned back to the school where host families greeted the students and took them home to start their weekend together. Our next blog post will be on Monday after the weekend.

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