Spring Festival? Spring Festivities!

Spring Festival? Spring Festivities!

I told you about my Fall Break trip to Greece for ten days or so last semester, but Spring Festival trip here in China is a little bit different. Sure, last semester we had Fall Break and also Thanksgiving break, and this semester we have Spring Festival and Spring Break (and two long weekends as well), but Spring Festival break was a trip to Yunnan Province, down at the border of Vietnam and Myanmar. Everything in Beijing shuts down anyway, and it’s still slowly reopening now, so the school takes all of the students down south. And by all, I really do mean all 37 of us.

Just like Greece, I couldn’t go into full detail or I’d be writing a whole book, but it was truly amazing. We were lucky enough not to have to take the train at all, just airplanes and busses, which was nice because we could sleep and stretch our legs at rest stops when needed – and get places where a train could never, and probably will never, go. Our first day there, I met with one of my father’s college friends with some of my own. It was a really cool experience, to be able to learn about his home province and my parent’s past without them there. And then it was a whirlwind of food, shopping, Old towns whose architecture capture China as it was and as people picture it to be while holding shiny technology stores and the latest in fashion, and laughing with my friends. One of my fellow Ricci Scholars and I vowed to make a dance video, and so we have – every city we went to we jammed on camera, and now, a week later, I’m working on putting it all together. Unfortunately my own pictures don’t upload, as usual, so I’m just using things from the internet. 

But besides the cities big and small, we also visited homes and villages of several minority peoples of China. Although over 90 percent of Chinese people are Han Chinese, there are still 58 minorities in China, half of which live in pockets of Yunnan, and we got the amazing privilege of meeting them. We stayed overnight in a Yi village and took a thirty minute drive in the back of an open air truck to get to a hidden lake for dinner. We climbed through rice terraces where any strong wind could push us into the water with the kind Hani people as our guides. We lived in a Dai village for a night and sent paper lanterns into the sky over Myanmar. We learned how the Naxi language worked and were welcomed into their town for a night of rituals, performances, and storytelling. Some fantastically talented Bai people in Dali treated us to their famous Three-Course Tea ceremony while performing Tang dynasty music.

Although it sounds like we were busy for thirteen days straight, we also had a lot of free time. When not dancing around like idiots, we bought trinkets and souvenirs, tasted Pu’er tea from a lady who picked the leaves herself, watched New Year’s Eve fireworks on a riverbank then ate kebabs at a night market, took a ski lift up a mountain, and so much more without it being an organized part of the day.

I was exhausted by the end of the journey, but I could have kept going for forever, probably. It was hard to leave the Province and I really want to go back, to see how much it will change and how much it will stay the same.

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