The image of these koi fish continues to resonate with me as I reflect on our trip three years later. Like this pond, China as a nation is huge, crowded, determined, busy, but her people are also kind, curious, friendly, and hospitable. I wrote quite a bit here about the fact that we did indeed stick out in China, and that that was a “fishbowl” experience that took getting used to, but we were never made to feel ill-at-ease. Most people acknowledged that we were unusual but not one person suggested that we were unwelcome. We can only hope that our picture-posing diplomacy has left them with an equally positive impression of us.
Visiting China was an incredibly edifying and wonderful experience that reinforces why we make travel such a priority. It is the ultimate course in the Humanities. Once you’ve been somewhere, and walked its streets, eaten its food, learned its history, culture, point of view, and smiled with its people and at their children, you are personally connected, and that place can no longer be exotic, foreign, nor reduced to a distorted sound byte on the evening news.