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tn_Children's Palace , Guild Hall and Downtown 140
JE 2008

China time and date:


Stairway to Heaven

Greetings all!

Big news! The group has safely arrived in Hohhot! And we have the first pictures of their arrival!.

But first (yeah, I know, it’s always “But first.”), let’s start with the day at Mt. Tai . . .

group 4-13

We now enter our last full week of the trip. I applaud you all for hanging in there and enduring this very long separation from your child (and/or spouse). The stretch in Hohhot will go fast. Before we get into what’s ahead of us, let’s see what the group did yesterday.

One of the highlights of the journey is the visit to Mt. Tai. This is one of the sacred mountains and is a spectacular experience. Mt. Tai is the most climbed mountain in China. Here are things to see at Mt. Tai:

  • Views overlooking Tai'an and the surrounding areas
  • Watch the sunrise in the east
  • Mountaintop monasteries
  • Carvings of prayers and phrases on the rock faces along the paths up the mountain
  • Ancient altars, gates and archways along the hike up the mountain

It is said anyone who climbs to the top will live to be 100. However, you are going to have to earn it! There are about 7,000 steps to the top! Let’s see . . . at one step every two seconds, that’s 30 steps a minute. 7,000 divided by 30 = 234 minutes, or nearly 4 hours (assuming you kept that pace to the top)! Whoa.

Okay, so here is the JE gang taking you on a picture tour of Mt. Tai:

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I Can See for Miles and Miles...

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Looks like they “Tai’d one one! Okay, that was corny. But I can do that because I am a Colonel’s son. Uh, yeah, well cereally folks . . . stop this guy!

signDon’t you love the signs? The blue one on the right (and above, right) has an odd word in the English translation: “precippous.” I couldn’t find the meaning of the word “precippous” anywhere. I believe the word is supposed to be “precipitous,” meaning: Extremely or impassably steep.

The group will continue to explore Jinan a little and then it is off to Beijing today. One hour flight to Beijing, 3 hours at the airport, and then a 45 minute flight to their final (and most important) destination: Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

Here’s Tom to give us a blow-by-blow of their mini-journey from Jinan through Beijing:

    We were up at 4:45 am and out of the hotel at 5:30 am, precisely when we had hoped to be. This may seem a mundane, insignificant matter to those not in the know but it is possibly the very first time in eight years and 35 or 40 hotel departures that we have not had a hassle of some sort upon departure. From a broken glass or lost key to a coffee-stained quilt back in Xi'an in 2002 to the infamous ping pong paddle episode in this very same hotel in Jinan a year ago, we have always had our departure delayed to settle up unanticipated accounts. A relief, in this instance as early morning departures are a drag under the best of circumstances. 

    tn_Beijing to Hohhot first day in Hohhot 001Arrived into Beijing's new Terminal 3, which was fascinating. It took us a solid 15 minutes of fast walking just to get from the plane to baggage claim. The terminal in easily the most impressive that I have ever been in, by far. I've flown to and through the largest, most modern airports in the States and they are dwarfed by this structure. It is extremely well done, light, airy, pleasing to the eye, clean and ultra modern in every way; a far cry from the airport that I first flew into here in Beijing in 1997; dimly lit with light bulbs that may have approximately 25 watts, few, unclean bathrooms and huge crowds of screaming, gesturing people cordoned off from the terminal while they yelled to, for, and at arriving passengers. I remember being quite intimidated by that scene. I could never figure out how an airport for a city the size of Beijing could possibly have an airport that looked like it belonged in a remote city in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. tn_Beijing to Hohhot first day in Hohhot 039Well, as in much of what we have seen in terms of infrastructure development in this country, they have figured it out and they are transforming it with massive, massive spending on a scale that is almost unimaginable. it is most impressive and, quite frankly, a bit intimidating.

    The Chinese recognize that the 20th century was the American century and are confident that the 21st century will be China's century. Based on what I have seen over a 10 year period, I would not dispute that. [Tom]

If you think it is difficult to get yourself and your child ready to go to work and school each morning, the above is a mini-capsule of what Tom and the chaperones go through with 23 kids in China each day (every hour!). Mind-boggling.

As promised, here are photos of the group arriving in Hohhot and a brief report from Tom:

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Welcome Home to Hohhot!

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Here’s Tom on the arrival in Hohhot:

    We arrived in Hohhot minus one piece of luggage only. The bag will come in on the flight from Beijing tomorrow morning. We have lots of friends here and they have the clothing and toiletry issues sorted out. Not a problem.

    tn_TC's flowersGreat welcome, as always, here in Hohhot. Yiruletu, Wu Xiyong, Yue Yan Hong, He Wei and Ge Siqi were among those who met us at the airport. I was presented with a wonderful, large, awesome bouquet of flowers whose scent is tantalizing as it moves from the open window through the room toward the open door.

    Our students had a great reunion with He Wei, Wuyuntaoli, Duguima, Dai Shuping, Han Xiaochen, Wu Xiyong, Sun Xiaoyan, and others at the Little Concert Hall in a scene that JE alums would recognize and appreciate. Mike, Meg and I met with Huhe, Xing Changjiang and Music and Dance Department teachers and have worked out the rehearsal schedule for the next 9 days.

    I think that it will be an exciting, inspiring and educational experience for our Chinese/Mongolian friends and for our students. Things are definitely a bit tighter here as a result of all the activity surrounding the Olympics; a bit more restrictive than they might be under different circumstances. We are truly enjoying and relishing our experiences here in China, so far. Such rich experiences in such varied geographical areas that we have traveled in Inner Mongolia is one dry, brown and gray place this time of year. Chongqing and Chengdu were most definitely green, lush and moist. [Tom]

It feels to good to finally have the group settling in in Hohhot.

As we close this part of the trip and begin a short, and final, intermediate excursion to Inner Mongolia, I want to remind you that the learning for these students never stops, whether it is the personal contact with China’s people, the performances the student give, the seeing and learning of the sites and culture, the students must still attend class. These students may be away from their Vermont classroom, but they are not away from their class. Part of the layover in the airport will be used for class time as has every opportunity each day to gather students as a group.

This is not just a trip to China, it is part of the semester-long Asian Studies program at Leland & Gray High School. Since January, this group has prepared for this journey. The impact will be huge for these students, but we are also hoping the impact will be huge for each of the Chinese people able to come in contact with this fine group of people.

And now the kids will get “up close and personal” with their Mongolian friends and become, in a sense, Mongolian.

Okay, everyone. This is going to be a great week and a half for Journey East 2008!

Enjoy the day!

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