|A blog from China : Level 5- 'One more!'|
We're in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and we get around quite a bit. Grace, Zhanna, Mr. Huang and I are fortunate to have Chen Hai, our driver who has balls of steel. This man is China's Ayrton Senna! Very fast. Too bad he doesn't speak any English. Or what?
"One more!" That order was just what I heard at lunch today and the words came out of driver Chen's mouth. He was referring to the pieces of fried beef in front of me. I never hesitate with Chinese food, so I appreciated his gesture and did what I was told.
Later, I thought about those two words. When we were thanking the city officials, the words were still echoing in my mind. One more handshake, one more picture, one more bite of lovely food... The words can be put many places where there is desire.
To describe today's events I need to borrow my colleague Asa's term, "An emotional roller-coaster ride." This morning all we knew were that we would visit another coal mine and then a lake in the afternoon.
Later we found out that we were going to see a collapsed coal mine that had resulted in a large area of uninhabitable land. Thousands were relocated. And were to see all this. This is the kind of stuff we only read and then write about. Never see.
We saw it alright! First we saw pictures of the devastation and after that we were shown videos of the enormous work it had been to fill these pits in the earth.
And then we went to see it with our own eyes. The land had been restored and there were trees and bushes all over, as well as shrines and monuments. At one of these we saw an old man, painting and playing his flute. He is a retired miner. He had been working the mines before their demise.
The whole experience with him sitting in the relatively lush surroundings, playing his instrument, with a huge coal fueled power station in the background, was almost too much, emotionally. Please use the media box to the right to hear Zhang's music (note: the instrument in the sound file and the one pictured are not the same).
A city official assured us, though, that collapsing mines were quite normal. Besides nobody got hurt and they monitored everything very thoroughly. So obviously it was just me, getting all sentimental.
And lunch, of course
After that we went and saw where the people of the collapse area had been resettled, and then we had lunch. After a delicious meal suited for Kings we went on to visit the lake. 120 kilometers per hour all the way on the motorway. Except where the speed cameras were, of course. And of course Chen knew when to lift his right foot, which was generally floored most of our journeys.
The lake had everything to offer. Some calm moments with only the puffing of a small diesel engine and some not-so-calm moments jet-skiing! The lake was a tourist attraction with nothing spared. The name "Sand Lake" was well deserved as it had it's own neighbouring desert, where the tourists could transport themselves around on camels or all terrain vehicles. Why heck, they could even fly!
As the day came to an end and we all were quiet, listening to Chen Hai punish the engine, I once again got sentimental. I thought about the miners and the collapsed mine area. I wondered if they had been told "One more!"
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