American children hear in grade school, at some point, that if they make a hole straight through the earth and crawl through it, they’ll wind up on the other side in China. It struck me, skyping with my Dad last night–who was living exactly 12 hours in the past, that I was in fact on the other side of the earth from him and, as I had pictured as a child, walking upside down. That bizarro world feeling goes beyond astrophysics, as I sit here behind a shiny mahagony table in a home office in Daqing, China. Yuhang and I are here getting ready for our giant wedding party that takes place in seven days. Supposedly attendees will range 300-400 total. There will be singing and toasting and speechifying and eating and celebrating. It will be a big deal. Now, I see why Yuhang’s mom said ten days would be barely enough time to get ready. Between meeting with family and friends and getting fitted up and fitted out–not to mention an entire day spent taking photos in five completely different costumes and eras (including the Ching dynasty and what I belive might have been Victorian England regalia)–there is a lot to do.
Daqing has been incredible. This city of 2.5m people, perched up in the far northeastern finger of China, is like no place I’ve seen. Thanks to bountiful petroleum wealth (the world’s fourth most productive oil field) and its frontier setting, it reminds me of some kind of combination of Saudi Arabian sheikdom, a wild west town from the American gold rush era and, well, China. Hard to describe, but maybe since I’m reading Michael Chabon’s Y.P.U. right now, I want to at least attempt to describe the ethno-geographic mashup. I’m the only white person I’ve seen in four days (which is fine by me) and my attempts at basic Mandarin are unfailingly hilarious, though people have been unfailingly gracious, too. I’m have a great time. I wish I could write more but constraints on time and domestic internet limit that at the moment. Hopefully I can post some photos soon. Until next time, peace out from Mao Zedong’s industrial ideal.Stumble it!