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August 25, 2006 - Guyuan, China

The Present

First day in Guyuan a bit of a blur. Four hours of sleep probably contributed to that. Wang Laoshi, my waiban or foreign affairs director, met me at the station even though my train showed up over an hour late. Very nice to hear some spot-on English off the train.

Wang Laoshi and her daughter, Wang Yu, met me for lunch and we had a “typical” Guyuanese lunch - I suspect it was anything but typical considering the white tablecloth service - but the food was great. I keep seeing small food stands that I am dying to try.

After lunch we walked around town a bit to get me aquainted. Grocery store. Market. Trouser shop. Mobile store.

I found out that the school is having a major review on this Saturday by some very important provincial officials. Quite the buzz. Seems the teachers are working very hard to make all go smoothly. As such, Wang Laoshi had work to do and I was left in the care of Wang Yu.

First off I must mention that Yu Wangs English is phenomenal. I ask what something is and she rattles off words to describe it - that is after she repeats the word and three synonyms in English. She will be in one of my Senior 1 classes. Oh, and she’s 14.

We walked to the largest market here in Guyuan - quite the sight - spices, vegetables, fruits, meats and snacks. The Muslim majority here makes itself quite apparent - white caps and minarets abound - especially in the market. This market had very little in the way of pork products, if any, and many of the merchants spoke what seems a mix of two foreign languages. I understood few words of one of them.

Nearby the market is a large park - a large island with many tall trees on it - criss-crossed by pedestrian paths. On the far side an important street, the other a major Muslim neighborhood. As we walked around the park I noticed the vast amount of construction taking place, not only in the park, but also on the bank closest in the Muslim section, where I could see many demolished homes ready to be built over.

It feels as though this town is on the brink of development - poised to leap into the breech of industry and growth. I’m glad I am here now.

Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?

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