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July 25, 2007 - Guyuan, China

So Long, Farewell.

The end of this road is near.

And by near I mean less than 24 hours near.

Somewhere between bowls of noodles, rambling on about American holidays to my poor students or drinking baijiu a year has slipped by. Certainly not the slipped in the sense of slipped though my fingers - I think, all backpatting and self-congratulating aside, I have integrated/pushed my way into this community pretty well - but more of a whoa-whoooaaaa-WHOOAAA where-the-hell-did-that-year-just-go kind of slipped by.

This isn't being written dry-eyed.

First and foremost I want to thank my students. Wether it be walking into the class drenched by rain, doubled over with a nasty Chinese cold or just in a generally foul mood - surprise, surprise, those do happen to me - my students never failed to bring a smile to my face. In fact we usually ended up bringing smiles to each others faces. Thanks my little Chinese horde. Remember me when you gut the good ol' US of A.

I also need to thank my fellow teachers. For putting up with my daily questions - pertinent to teaching and not, putting up with my foreign sense of humor - it took a more than a few hurt looks and awkward silence to warm up to sarcasm and finally being a great group to work with. Bravo. You guys are workhorses.

And last but of course, not least, my Guyuanren. From my noodle crew to my bingzi bakers. From the randoms in the restaurants to the randoms on the street. Store clerks, barbers, gun-toting armored car guards, fruit vendors, plumbers and travel agents. Shoe repairmen, antique hawkers and little kids. They make Guyuan the place it is - and a great one at that.

I started to write a list of the things I will miss - listening to 15 people slurping noodles, bamboo toothpicks, random hello's, obscene english t-shirts, the fruit - and realized that wasn't the right approach.

What won't I miss?

Man tou - a tasteless steamed bread - fit only for consumption by political prisoners and rats. With so much good food around, why bother?

Thanks Guyuan - your claws are in deep, and only in the best of ways - don't think you're getting rid of me this easily.

What now?

I'm off to Shanghai and then Guilin for a last bit of travel - the globetrotting 'strower will be along for the ride - and then its back to New York City. More on that later. Photos from the last 2 months also to come... promise.

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