Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Great Wall AGAIN?!

Ok just a little tidbit that I haven't added before that I think some of you might appreciate, or be appalled by. And yes, the same thing can enduce both reactions (e.g., The Great Faux-Jewish Escapade of 2002). The first day of training, the TAs came into the classroom to help us prepare. After going over the material, Eileen gave me a list of the children. Almost half had English names, the other half were nameless. So I was given the duty, nay, the privilege of assigning them their English names.

Did I name them something close to the sounds of their Chinese names? No, of course not. Too easy. Did I name them after friends, relatives, or other loved/respected ones? No, of course not. My brain wasn't thinking that way. So, how did I name them? After characters from Star Wars, Firefly, and video games, of course. This was stranger than I imagined, as kids started looking and acting in my eyes like their counterparts (I'm sure some of you will know these). I now see Luke as being sort of the one that will come into his own and be a powerful person one day. I see Han as a rebel mercenary type kid who's too cool for school. I see Kaylee as a quirky, cute little ball of optimism. And so on. There's also a Jane, but I couldn't get away with naming a boy "Jayne". Its funny though, cause she's tough and stubborn just like her counterpart. Oh well. Others that were turned down as too out there or complicated were Mal, River, Simon, Chewie, Jabba, Boba, and almost everyone I used to play WoW with. Hehe, I'm kidding... mostly. While I think that Boba Fett is less of a stretch than some of the names they actually give (such as Smile, or a boy named Sunshine), I guess I would have been crossing some line there. But, Celera came damn close to being one of the girls. That name was very well received (Sorry Cel!). There are also two exceptions: I named one of the kids Dan, because I knew he'd be dedicated just like Mr. Hubball, and one of the kids Jack, because I got tired of thinking of weird names.

Ok onto the Wall.

After coming back down, we walked further to the east. The sun was setting quickly, but we were interested in seeing if the wall continued further to another town (that has good Jao za, if thats how its spelled). We kept walking until we approached another impasse. We technically could have crossed, but that area was a little too rugged for our liking. Plus there wasn't 100% certainty that it was the right way. So we about-faced back to a decent camping spot we found.

We "set up" camp, which consisted of unfurling a sleeping bag and mat, and Cory cooked some fine - damned fine - pasta. It was a very cold, but clear, night. I had not seen the stars since I'd been here. It was very nice to see them. Very nice. I even caught a glimpes of a shooting star here and there. And, as I drifted of to sleep sans glasses, I peered through my sleeping bag up at the stars and thought for waaay too long on why one star was significantly brighter than the others. I erroneously concluded that it was a different part of the world, so maybe some stars shine more vividly than in America. Yeah, it was the moon, dumbass. I'm a sharp one, I tell ya. Anyway, after some intense crossword puzzle playing, we "went to sleep". I say it like that because it was hard to. First, I wasn't very comfortable. Second, it was pretty darn cold. Third, I couldn't get over the fact that I was freaking camping on the Great Wall of China.

So after a full night of tossing and turning and rolling down hill into a bush a few times, it was morning. I poked my nose out the top of my sleeping bag to get a whiff of cool, fresh air. The dew was glistening on the sleeping bag, and... the air... was so fresh. Sorry, when you live in Beijing, you really get a kick out of clean air. It was funny to wake up to a symphony of digitized camera shutter clicks, start up sounds, and Cory, Katie, and Laura all whispering, "Wow, its so beautiful!" Really, how could anyone sleep through that? So I got up to see what all the fuss was about.

Yeah, I thought in my sleeping bag with the cover over my eyes wanting to get some sleep, "Its just a sunrise. They're ooing and ahhing over nothing. I've seen the sunrise a thousand times. Its always the same. The sun comes up, lights things up, makes things warmer, and eventually decides to go back down. Nothing special. What is special is sleeping. That's where its at." Good thing this was a temporary thought.

So after we took several thousand photos of nearly the same scenery (I'm not exaggerating... I think between us it was that many), we started back down. By the way, if anyone wants the full size image of the sunrise, alls ya got to do is ask. Its really much prettier than the super-compressed version.

Once we got to the bottom, we conversed with the locals. By "we", I mean Cory and Katie. I just sat there and played with a puppy, wishing that I knew what was going on in the Chinese conversation world. We eventually got a ride to another section of the wall, the touristy section, where we were constantly screamed at such phrases as, "Hello! Water!" or "Hello! Coke!" or "Hello! Water! Coke! Hello!". It sounded hilarious, as if they were thinking that my name was Water or Coke. I wanted to shot back, "Hello, Pepsi! Hello!". I'm not a jerk though.

The touristy wall was much easier to access, with a chairlift and everything. It was much more restored, but not any less cool. Just cool in a different way. In an easier way. I liked to challenge of going to the ruins. You had to hike through the wilderness to get there. At touristy wall, you were ushered around. There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, after getting such little sleep, I welcomed it. But I'm very glad I did the challenging part. Touristy wall was fun though, because when you were done, you got to ride a sled down a metal slide to the bottom. Just like in the old days...

So... thats it. Finally. I'm done. No more Wall Talk until I get back home and it is casually brought up in idle banter. Its one of those things that is difficult for a guy like me to talk about. By which I mean, I'm so unenthusiastic sounding about everything. Laura Kavazanjian, Cory, and Katie were all so enthusiastic about recounting it, telling the experience in detail. When I was asked about my wall trip at school I replied in a very "my Dad" way, "It wasn't too bad." Or "Yeah, it was pretty neat". Internally, I'm thinking, "This is the coolest thing I've ever done!! Oh my god!! The Great Wall!" It just doesn't come out that way.

Anyway, I'm done. Which is good, I'm going to Xi'an in a few days. I need to get caught up so I can write more! Thanks for sticking through the story till the end! Luke, the story is over. You'll have to wait for season two now. And there were no cliff-hangers. Where is the incentive to keep reading, I wonder?

Bye bye.

P.S. That peak back there is where the neat tree was. To quote Mitch Hedberg, "That tree is far away!!"


Celera said...

I'm sure that later on in the course of the school year, some incredibly beautiful and intelligent girl will join the class, and Celera will be the obviously right name for her. I might just change my name to that -- I like it much better than my real name anyway. Then maybe I'll dye my hair aqua.

Thank god there wasn't a Fechak. He'd have to show up drunk every day, and yell at the other kids if they make mistakes, and that would just be a tough assignment for a third grader.

You were camping on the Great Wall of China. That is so amazing -- really. The sunrise photo is ...stunning.

Drew said...

Finney has grown on me too, actually. But I don't think I'd make a good Finney. Drew fits like a glove. The closest second would be Matt, since alot of people seem to accidentally call me that.

Haha, I actually thought of Fechak. I knew that would be really difficult to fight for.

Lauren said...

I agree with Cel - that sunrise picture is really stunning. Sounds like it was worth not getting much sleep (:

I remember getting assigned my "French name" back in HS french class. We were given them, and they stayed with us for all four years. I was Cecile.

Anonymous said...

Oh Im sure you have 11 months worth of cliff-hangers to tickle the interest with. Im not worried about that. Luke

Anonymous said...

So what are the names of the mountians in the sunset picture anyway?
Luke, again.

James said...

So, you must have thought to name a girl Val right... You, by the way, fit the name Finney better than you think. I can't call you Drew, and as long as I remain, I will never call you Drew. You are Finney, and I have a woman's name.

(... and Batman's name.)

Anonymous said...

drew, i'd like to get a full copy of the sunrise pic - it's phenomenal! fall is happening here in the NC mtn's and it's beautiful! i'm going to see Luke this weekend (30 sept) - we'll be talkin' bout ya!

Jason said...

(oh yea, that was Jason)

Keiyla said...

What, like "Polly" is too hard? Come on! Sheesh. (My German names were Kersten and Karla...come to think of it, my SCA name is Katla and many of my online video games have a character named Keiyla. I'm sensing a theme.)

Sounds like a great time! I'm very jealous. Can't wait for more!

Drew said...

I didn't even think of Polly instead of Polrena. I thought of Polrena, but didn't say it because I was sure it would be denied (they weren't liking names with more than 2 syllables).

There was a girl named Renee though, if that means anything to you.