"Should I save or savor the world?"

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world.

This makes it hard to plan the day.

E.B. White

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

is your nose running?

Then you better go catch it! Yes, bad joke, but it describes perfectly our lives here at the Sengcham Drukmo Home. A shout out to my mom for convincing me to bring Kleenex packets; they've been put to excellent use on many noses, including my own.

*I posted three blog chapters at once, so please go to the right side of the page and find the links entitled “Last Night In Xining,” and “Goodbye China; Hello TAR!” They are written in that order, with “Is your nose running” posted last. I had to wait for our internet access to kick in here at the home before I was able to post, thank you for your patience and, as always, thank you for reading!


Sam will attest to the fact that I absolutely hate smelling like food, but if that is the only problem I have to overcome while here, then I consider myself lucky. I spend a lot of time in Shangbo's kitchen, as does the rest of Dockpo's family. It is information central, with heat, light, and food, and as a result, I come away smelling like dinner.

Dockpo's family is great; Zoba is the oldest. He is a monk and we have struck up a great relationship centered around our languages, but also in an amiable exchange of non-verbals. He teaches Buddhism and Tibetan Grammar in the monastery. Dockpo is next, and is clearly the driving force behind the mission of the home. Shangbo is the younger sister, and speaks some English, and I've been working with her on pronunciation and vocab. She has a German husband, who is currently in America, and she was actually a mail-order bride for her German husband, who, after meeting/marrying him in Xining, she “learned to love.” She lives at the home, and cooks for the family members and cares for the youngest sister's daughter. Shangbo is funny and sweet, and definitely wants to improve her English, which makes my job easy! The youngest sister, Semnyit, is a teacher of Tibetan Grammar at a school about 70 kilometers away. She speaks a little English, and has an infectious laugh. Semnyit stayed for a couple days to visit her daughter and I had the pleasure of meeting her. Dockpo agreed to care for Semnyit's 3 year old daughter when Semnyit and her husband divorced. And, last but not least, is Drokri, a 19 year old guy who was adopted by Dockpo's mother when he was little. Drokri is the resident big brother for the girls and delivers the wake-up call in the morning. He is on call to rescue shuttlecocks from the roof, mop floors, serve milk tea and be a generally friendly person. Drokri is attending school now, and is in the 9th grade (most students start at a later age than Americans-- usually they are lucky to be in school by age 7.)

Theron and Reuel would be quite proud of my newly-acquired skill of holding half a sheep leg in my hands and using a knife to carve away chunks of meat to eat. There is no clean way to do this, but, I'll admit, it is satisfying. I know I'm offending every vegetarian friend I have, and, believe me, I almost offend myself, but it's necessary. Actually, a lot of Tibetans are vegetarian; because of globalization they have much better access to fruits and vegetables that are impossible to grow at altitude. Buddhism does not dictate vegetarianism, but it does suggest the idea that animals and humans are equal. Eating meat used to be inescapable in this climate, but it was confined to eating large animals only. The idea is that one yak will feed many people, where as one fish feeds one person.

Eating is done with chopsticks, and we gather around a central table with different stir-fried food items that we place on rice or noodles. Everything is hot-- hot water, hot tea and you quickly understand why the Tibetan eating culture is defined by the slurping noise of quickly ingesting hot liquid/food before it cools in the freezing air.

During the day, it has been a pleasant temperature. Well, pleasant if you're wearing long-underwear and a good coat. At night everything freezes again and I wear the same amount of clothes to bed as I wear during the day. I have barely noticed the altitude; I might have been slightly short of breath while cleaning the yard on Sunday, but I am quickly acclimating. And I would gladly sacrifice my full lung capacity in order to appreciate the view, uninhibited by smog or haze. The weather here changes in an instant. Because of the valley situation, it will be cloudless and clear for five minutes, and then change to a solid block of cloud cover and driving snow in two minutes.

There is no heat in my room except for a stove pipe from the yak dung/coal stove downstairs, which does little against the large, curtainless windows in my room. Thankfully, I was raised in Maine, and I have experienced no greater discomfort than I have at home during a power outage. Although, the air is extremely dry, and I wake up fighting a terrible sore throat.

The bathroom is a porcelain hole in the ground right outside the main gate, inside a little wall, no ceiling and it is a daunting walk to face at night. I have been supplied with a wash basin and water heater in my room so that I can wash my face at night. The water heater is perfect also for boiling my drinking water, and I get my main supply of water from the well in the yard which only has one setting: torrential. It almost knocks me over every time I use it, but I'm learning quickly.

Yaks wander around the town in clusters of 5 or 6, digging through the trash for juicy, rotting supplements to their diet of the short grass growing on the nearby mountains, where they usually graze. Just yesterday, they ambled through the gate into our yard, and we had to shoo them out, like big, hairy dogs.

Speaking of dogs, every house in the village has a large, Tibetan dog attached to a chain and the dogs crouch in each front yard outside the main entrance. The dogs are big, like a large German Shepherd, but are brindled and black with brown ruffs and are hairy to the point of ambiguity. At night, they bark to each other like that scene in “101 Dalmatians” with the dog telegraph or whatever. All night long, no matter what time you're awake, they're barking. It's just part of the background noise.

Ollie (my Siberian Husky puppy) has been well-received by all the girls, and now has 50 girlfriends who wait on him hand and paw. The girls, at first an ambiguous body of strangers, are now separating into personalities and recognizable characteristics. They range from quiet and contemplative to crazy and slap-happy, ages 4 to 15. But they all love to sing and they sing together every morning and night, and love to sing in the classroom. I am going to teach them some easy songs that will help with English recall.

I have lost track of time; I'm not intensely aware of the date or day of the week as I would be at home. I've kissed culture shock goodbye, and am fully happy to embrace these moments. “and you learn slowly to recognize the very few things in which something eternal endures that you can love, and something solitary in which you can gently share.” RM Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet

goodbye China; hello TAR!

Tuesday, March 17, 5:30pm Dogun, Dockpo, Ollie and I left for Darlag. We left Xining on a well-kept main highway, and I watched the craggy mountains of Xining give way to huge, rolling mountains setting the backdrop for vast, tundra-like plains that stretched on for miles. The straight and smooth highway changed to a more narrow road filled with hairpin turns through the mountainous landscape of southwestern China as we came into Tibet. The landscape in Tibet changed in sudden curves and peripheral glances. One minute, we would be driving into the sunset on an endless road reminiscent of the American mid-west (without the cornfields, of course) and then I would find myself looking straight over the edge of a ravine at the base of a mountain, feeling the car bend itself around a curve that would be impassable in even the slightest precipitation. As we drove further into Golok, we were accompanied on the road by herds of yaks, or a couple stray sheep wandering in the median. I also began to see prayer flags everywhere; they resemble a Native American teepee when the prayer flags are attached in strings to the top of a pole, and then brought down to the earth. Colorful and beautiful, they whisper prayers into the incessant wind on top of the mountains and hills, or spanning the highway.

And in the background of this vast, treeless territory, jagged mountains stand with snow on their peaks. My first response to the landscape was awe-filled. Because there are no trees, there is no ease in the transition of earth to sky, no organic blending of shades. It is harsh and it is beautiful. It's like seeing a black-and-white photo for the first time, after being used to a full spectrum of tones that distracts from the essence of the picture.

Then it was night, and I slept for the short periods of time that we had smooth road, intercepted often by stretches of brain-rattling dirt and stone road. We stopped for a brief moment in the night, and I saw the altitude-enhanced sky, with millions of stars I had never seen before, and a shooting star streaked across the lower-right hemisphere. The air was clean and sharp, and I felt refreshed from the sweaty dust of Xining. I felt fine at altitude; no different than skiing in Colorado.

As per the recent, important dates of early March, we did see one burned-out car along the side of the road.

We arrived around 4am in Darlag, and drove through the sleepy village through the red gates of the the Sengcham Drukmo Home. I fell into bed in an upstairs room of an ambiguous building, with a feeling of anticipation in my stomach for the beginning of the next chapter in the story. I was awoken a few hours later by the sound of 50 girls chanting Tibetan grammar in the early light of the morning. It was such a unique feeling, one I don't think will ever be replicated in my life, of hearing the voices of the girls I had only seen in pictures. I slept again, and woke up to Tibet around me. Darlag is in a valley, surrounded by the huge hills I had seen on the drive in, and I spent that day hazily meeting the other adult residents of the home (Dockpo's family), the 6 new girls who arrived during Dockpo's stay in the States, and then seeing the other girls at 4:30 when they returned from school. I talked with Dockpo about the plan for how I am to be used while here, and decided to start the first English lesson the following afternoon.

That night, I slept in a room adjacent to the large room that sleeps all 50 girls, and fell asleep listening to them chant their prayers before bed. It's a really awesome sound.

Before I describe teaching, I want to preface it with this quote from a new favorite book of mine: “Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities,” Mortenson explains. “But the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they've learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate the girls.” -Greg Mortenson, Three Cups Of Tea.

My first class was great! I didn't prepare any material for teaching before I came; I just had an intuitive feeling of how to tackle the language barrier when I stepped into the classroom. The girls are the best students I have ever seen (sorry Longfellow) and enthusiastic almost to a fault. The classroom is also the room in which they eat their meals, and the girls arranged the tables and benches in a class style, with the coal/yak dung stove in the center. I began with basic greetings, and the alphabet, concentrating on perfect pronunciation. They immediately struggle with the long sound of “A” and the hard sound of “V.” But with much smiling and concentration, we are tackling these issues and they are getting it! Anyone who has ever taught knows the difficulty (and joy) of teaching, but add to it a total language barrier, and it becomes like a maze, with many stops and turns and “reverse directions.” But I couldn't be happier and the time flies while I'm in the classroom. I teach twice a day, after lunch and dinner, and the girls are calling me “the cute teacher” and want to keep going even when the time for class is over.

We have successfully managed the alphabet, with a slight variation on the tune, and we are working on vocab and total body response ie: “shut the door” “turn off the light” “please sit.” One of the games I've played with them is to say “please sit,” with different pronunciations of the word “sit,” ie “set” “sat” until they hear the correct one, and then sit. Obviously, there are only a few left standing for the proper pronunciation, but they like it and it's a fun way to learn! With total body response, I go around the room, touching different girls on the head and giving direct commands like “open the window,” “turn on the light,” so that they understand the vocab word, and have a practical application for it. I've also used a ball, having them toss it to each other while shouting a letter of the alphabet.

We begin every class with the vowel sounds of each consonant, “ba, be, bi, bo, bu” concentrating on the individual sounds of the vowels, which tend to become mushed into one generic short “e” sound, especially a, e, and i.

I have a lot more ideas for how to further our mutual learning experience, and I hope that I will be able to make some headway in this short amount of time. I hope that the success thus far is based on more than the novelty of my presence and that there is something sustainable in the lessons. I want to get us out of the classroom soon, going for walks and playing games that they can keep playing after I leave.

A huge thank you to every language teacher I have ever had; Mom, Senora Nolan, Ms. Tanahashi, and, of course, Magistra Lienau. And a big thank you (and hug) to Mrs. Susie Knowles and Mr. Rick Wilson, who have both had an enormous impact on my education philosophy.

To refer you back to the Mortenson quote, the truth of that precept is right here in the Sengcham Drukmo Home for Girls. There are 50 smart, happy girls here who have so much to teach me already, and who will become competent and educated women simply based on the fact that they are receiving this opportunity. And Dockpo has 150 more girls on his list, girls who deserve education because we all deserve education.

Beyond the education aspect, we spent the day on Sunday, March 22, cleaning up the yard and making it ready to grow grass. That night, the girls danced and sang, and drew beautiful art. (Pictures on Facebook!) There is much talent there, and I look forward to tapping it. I also read to them the story of Thumbelina, with Dockpo translating, and they loved it! Thank you to Janice Cooper for donating that and other childrens books. Stories are such a universal way to connect to people, as I hope I am demonstrating through this blog.

I hope this post finds you healthy and happy, thank you for reading!

last night in Xining

Ollie and Xining

The view of Xining from the revolving restaurant

Dinner with Dogun, Urgan, Dockpo, Maria, Sofia and Jappa

Saying good bye to Chung from South Korea; Quajia on the right.  

Dockpo arrived in Xining on Sunday, March 15, right as Quajia (my amazing Tibetan roommate) was finishing my lesson on making tsampa. I hadn't quite mastered the technique, so my hands were crusty and covered in barley flour, but it was still a very happy meeting. I'm thinking about bringing tsampa ingredients back to the States since yak butter and cheese are scarce in Phippsburg, Maine. Tsampa is made with yak cheese curds in the bottom of a bowl, a piece of yak butter, a pile of barley flour, and milk tea (oja) poured on top. After sipping away the oja, being careful to blow the melted butter away from your mouth, you mix the remaining ingredients with a forefinger, kneading it into a fist-sized, oblong ball with a thick, doughy consistency. Holding the finished tsampa in your right hand, you take a bite size piece, roll it and eat! Meanwhile, your empty bowl is filled with the ever-present oja, and it is a complete and filling meal. (Yes, we wash our hands before eating tsampa.)

After a lovely tour of the Kumbum (or Ta'er) Monastery, courtesy of Dockpo and Dogun, I was named “Dechan Wangmo,” meaning “Powerful Happiness.” The monastery was beautiful, and gave me a deeper understanding of the Tibetan/Buddhist culture. The pictures are on Facebook, and as they are each worth a thousand words, I won't try to describe Kumbum's rich culture here.

Monday, March 16, and we are planning on leaving for Tibet tomorrow. I spend Monday mastering the Chinese bus system (by myself) to buy a kennel, food, and something for Ollie to chew on other than my fingers. My destination was the animal market, or the “Remin Gong Yuan” where I found Oliver and where I can also find the items on my list. I've picked up the necessary Chinese phrases to make those purchases fairly easily, and where my Chinese is lacking, I make a fool of myself with miming and acting. I don't know the Chinese numbers very well, but the Chinese have different hand gestures to symbolize the number, which I learned while shopping with Maria. And, yes, I did haggle with the pet-store attendant and got him to drop his price from 110 quai to 70 quai (approx 12 USD). While returning to Maria's on the bus, I was tapped on the shoulder and turned to see a college-aged Chinese guy who immediately said “Hellonicetomeetyouuu” and smiled while bobbing his head repeatedly. I laughed and said hi, and he responded “you are very beautiful!!!” I thanked him, knowing that this was the go-to statement for Chinese guys to foreign women. We spent my remaining minutes on the bus chatting about his education (Business Administration at Qinghai University) and he tried to teach me a Chinese poem... Right.

The weather has been beautiful-- much warmer, and I am able to walk around without 10 layers constricting my blood/oxygen flow. I am sure that when I return to Xining in June to depart for the US, it will prepare me well for a humid night in Boston upon my arrival.

Monday night, Maria had set a date for all of us to have dinner in the revolving “Western” restaurant on top of a sky-scraper in downtown Xining, and she left a note before leaving for a class that included the instructions “do not wear sports clothes.” When her daughter, Sofia, returned from school around 4:30, we headed straight to the main drag in Xining to find something for me to wear that did not resemble a t-shirt and Carhartts. You'd think that would be the easiest task in the world, especially in China where all of my clothes come from anyway. But, no. China makes absolutely AWFUL cheap terrible items for their own citizens that make Walmart look like Neiman Marcus. They make better quality items for Americans because we're willing to pay for it... well, except for lead paint on our childrens toys. Regardless, Sofia and I had 40 minutes to find something in little stores with no dressing rooms and lurid, fake, logos on all their clothes. I finally found something, sans logo, in the 20 quai store (like an American dollar store) and we headed back home to change and leave for the restaurant with Dockpo and Dogun. You can see the pictures from dinner on Facebook. We were accompanied by two monks at dinner, one of whom owns a girls home and school, similar to Dockpo's mission. It was enjoyable, with a good assortment of foods and hilarious Chinese-English translations in the menu. Some of my favorites include “the fragrance fries the Buddhist ritual procedures fat foie gras” and “the British lucky row cod its its juice.” I ate something labeled “The cow falls into the quarry.” It was good.

Tuesday, March 17, Dockpo tells me that we're going to leave for Darlag that afternoon and I am so excited to be on the move again. We spend the morning doing some bulk shopping for the girls at the home, and enjoyed lunch at the Tibetan Market. Yak meat...mmmm. I also had my first taste of butter tea, and, as the name implies, it is very rich and a little too much for me.

One more order of business, and that is to pay a quick visit to a local American vet in Xining to give Ollie his puppy shots. After the fiasco with a Chinese vet (one word for him: incompetent) I was looking forward to someone who would actually know something about dogs, and like them, for that matter. Maria dropped me off at Monty's (US vet) apartment, and I said a quick goodbye to her since I wouldn't see her again before I left for Golok. Ben, the Cambridge student from Wales who is studying Chinese here in Xining, helped me find the room, and I also said a goodbye to him; hopefully I will see him, and all my other new acquaintances, again in June before I leave. Monty is a middle-aged missionary from Washington state, who practices vet medicine with his wife in remote areas of the world. They were most recently in Nepal, and Monty is a wonderful, gentle man with an obvious heart for God and for me. His wife, Shelley, was in the US, and while he was checking Ollie, his son, Morgan, came in. Morgan is a USAFA student who, like me, took a year off between his sophomore and junior years to come to China. He is studying Chinese in Xining, and we enjoyed discovering some mutual friends at the AF Academy; Josh Seefried and Matt Fleharty.

Monty and Morgan (and their border collie, Nora) were a joy to meet, but I had to hurry away to pack for Golok. Just like climbing down a tree is harder than climbing up, it is much harder to re-pack than it is to start from scratch; somehow all of my stuff grew. But we squashed it all into Dogun's hot yellow mini cooper-ish car, leaving a Geneva-sized spot in the back seat. I am so looking forward to meeting the girls and unpacking and becoming installed and ready for whatever these next couple months have in store for me.

Dockpo asked me if I miss home, and I truthfully responded that I don't. Which is to say, I don't miss my amenities or my comforts, and I don't miss the familiar. I think of the faces of my family and friends with love, and with the knowledge that I will be happy to see them again in June.

Vergil said it best: si qua fors adiuvet ausum, FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Sorry for the delay in updating my blog! It has been difficult to get my hands on an English computer rather than a Chinese version. I am safe and sound in Xining, waiting until the uprising is over before we travel on to Darlag, Golok Region.

SO much to tell, so I'll start at the beginning.

My parents drove me to Boston early on Monday morning (March 9) in the middle of a "wintry mix" that delayed my flight out of Boston by three hours. When they were about to allow us to board, we were notified that the flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems. Fortunately, my flight out of JFK was at a time that allowed me to catch a different flight out of Logan, and I made it to Beijing more than a day later, luggage intact. No problem at customs, and I met a couple other Americans my age. One girl, Amanda, was from Portland, Maine! She was on her way to Chengdu for a documentary, and the other two guys were from New York, coming to visit friends in Beijing.

After changing over some money, I haggled my way through a hotel booking agency to get a cheap room in Beijing for the night. (19 hour layover before my flight to Xining.) I was planning on sleeping at the airport, but since I had to claim my luggage and re-check it the next morning, I didn't want to risk theft. After a harrowing drive through the city of Beijing (drivers are insane) a tight squeeze through an alleyway, another squeeze through a gate, I was escorted into a pretty shady establishment with a couple teenaged guys at the front desk who, of course, spoke no English. We managed, with lots of hand signals and laughter, to get me into a room, with the promise of a wake-up call at 6:30am. And I even got to shower. I also received a bizarre call on my cell phone from a teacher in Maine asking me to sub for her class... After explaining why that would be impossible, I was able to receive phone calls from my parents, sister and boyfriend! I didn't think my phone would still work abroad, but I was pleasantly surprised. My cellphone is off now, so email is the best way to contact me.

The next morning, I answered the hotel room phone to a sleepy "Haooo," to which I responded, "thanks!" haha, still not sure what he said, if anything in that wake-up call. The guys at the front desk loaded my luggage back into their airport shuttle, opened the door for me to get in, shut it, and walked away. I assumed there were other guests who needed to go to the airport, and that they were waiting for them, but after 10 minutes, I was ready to go back in the hotel drag the attendants out. They wandered back out, smoking profusely, and I tapped my watch and mimed an airplane, explaining that I needed to get to the airport. They got it, and we left, listening to loud chinese pop, that interjects the occasional "Babyyy boyyyy" just for good American measure.

My flight to Xining was non-stop turbulence, and when I arrived and headed to the restroom, it was literally a porcelain hole in the floor. No time like the present, and squatting is good for the leg muscles. I was greeted at baggage by Maria Bhutia, owner and director of T-Fusion Restaraunt, Hotel and School, as well as Dockpo's friend. She put the traditional white scarf around my neck, and we headed to her place via the 100 kph highway. Maria is German born, English trained, British accented, 40 year resident of India, married to a Tibetan (met in India) and now lives and teaches Tibetan girls here in Xining, China.

Her hostel is home to 5 Golok girls who are too old for Dockpo's home, and thus Maria has agreed to care for them and teach them English and trade skills in return for their assistance in running the hostel. Also living there is a 23 year old Tibetan girl named Quajia, who is a student at Qinghai University and speaks great English, as well as Chinese and obviously Amdo, one of the three Tibetan languages. (The other two are Lhasa and Kham. I'll be speaking Amdo.) Quajia is wonderful, and I am rooming with her. We have become fast friends and as she wants to be a teacher as well, we have shared different cultural and personal philosophies about education. I look forward to building a relationship with her.

The next couple of days I spent in the city and in the hostel with the girls. With the girls, I filled in for Maria when she had to be absent (I'm a sub even in China) and reviewed English colors, numbers, and taught them proper phone etiquette and greetings. We get along great! It's a mish-mash of cultural exchange and language, but it's fun. The girls have lots of different teachers from the small group of ex-pats in the city. They have a Chinese tutor who also teaches tailoring, a women from Malaysia who helps with their English, Henri, from Holland, who is also an English teacher, and lots of other individuals who are passing through.

The city has been a blur of impossible regulations, colorful store fronts, even more colorful characters, bartering, new foods and little spots like the Amdo Cafe, a coffee shop that sells Tibetan handicrafts from Golok, with full profit returning to the women who made them.

Today, Dockpo arrived, and took me out for my first taste of yak; loved it. Quajia also showed me how to make tsampa (yak butter, barley flour, yak milk, tea, yak cheese) and it's a bland but good addition to my daily routine. Tomorrow we do some more sightseeing, and then Tuesday, hopefully, things will have died down enough to travel up to Golok.

The weather has been very cold at night, with only a coal stove and heating pad for warmth. During the day, it has been warmer, with temperatures that allow fewer layers if you're moving briskly. Inside the hostel, the main room is a green house, which traps the heat nicely during the day, and is very comfortable.

As far as my personal health goes, I've been feeling great! No issues with food, climate, altitude; the time change has been a little wearing, but my sleep is improving.

I am looking forward to getting settled in at Dockpo's home, and beginning my own teaching! I will continue to update my blog, probably weekly. I posted two albums of pictures on facebook, be sure to take a look at them.

Please send emails! They are great to receive, even if I cannot answer them immediately.

From Xining with love,


Thursday, March 5, 2009

"The time has come," the walrus said

Everything is done. Well, except my packing; the floor of my room is littered with vitamins, protein bars, brightly colored childrens books, chamois cloth, water sterilization tabs, and lots of double A batteries. My pack stands ready and waiting to receive this odd assortment while I contemplate the hours I have left in Maine, and the travels that are before me. You'll notice that the blog title has changed from "Tibet; A Beginning" to "Three Months In Tibet", reflecting the beginning to a new chapter in this journey.

I fly out of Boston this Monday morning to JFK in New York. From New York I fly 15 hours to Beijing, where I have a 19 hour lay over before arriving in Xining on Wednesday, March 11. I will stay in Xining for a few days with Dockpo's friend, Maria, at her hostel. When Dockpo arrives in Xining on his way back from Boston, he and I will travel by car to the home in Darlag, approximately 240 miles southwest of Xining.

This week has been a flurry of activity in making last minute arrangements, meetings, goodbyes, and I am feeling the relaxation of my planning reaching its culmination in my departure early tomorrow morning.

If you would like to send books, academic supplies, knitting supplies, or anything else for the girls, you may send it to:

T-Fusion & SDGH Girls Home
Xiao Qiao Miao Pu
Post Box 1
Cheng Bei District
Xining, 810003
Peoples Republic of China

Robert Louis Stevenson said "There are no foreign lands. It is only the traveler who is foreign."