From the Arch to the Great Wall

1. Home, Away Home

On June 13th, 2004, I picked up my backpack, got on the bus, went home, opened the door to my room and fell asleep on the bed.

Only this time, my backpack was my luggage, the bus was a chartered tour bus, my room was inside a Holiday Inn, and home was not Chesterfield, MO, but rather Beijing, China.

My name is Rich Yueh and I am an 18 year old incoming freshman at Purdue University. I attended Parkway West High and was able to travel to China with a group of 22 students from St. Louis University High School (SLUH). Together with my friend Jason Huang from Lafayette High, chaperones Mr. Bob Overkamp (a fellow teacher at SLUH) and his wife Susan, and under the guidance of Dr. Ching-Ling Tai, a Chinese teacher at SLUH, we spent 16 memorable days visiting 8 cities in China: Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Zhenzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.

Although the trip started on June 12th, 2004, preparation started almost two years ago. Forms and money were due in the fall of 2002 and a meeting was held during the winter to discuss packing lists, travel tips, and some facts about each city we were going to visit. As plane tickets were reserved and hotel rooms were booked, it seemed like we were fairly ready to leave. But then in early 2003, the SARS scare arose in China and immediate action had to be taken. Dr. Tai cancelled all plans and postponed the trip until the end of the 2003-2004 school year.

As SARS began to clear up, preparation activities arose once more. One meeting was held in late 2003 as an informal meet and greet. Another was held in May to finalize packing lists, go over rules, and hand out itineraries. Due to conflicts with work, I was not able to attend either one; I received my information secondhand through my parents. When June rolled around it seemed as if this was going to be it- there was no turning back because everyone has made it this far. I made some trips to the store to get some granola bars and packed all my luggage by Friday night, June 11th.

On Saturday, June 12th, everyone had to meet at Lambert Airport by 8:30 in order to check in two hours before departure. I arrived fairly early and checked in my luggage smoothly. The time between reaching the gate and boarding the plane was not long. We were only there for about half an hour - just enough time to return passports and hand out boarding passes - when we heard the boarding announcement.

Our first stop was Minneapolis en route to Tokyo. The flight to Minneapolis was only an hour and 40 minutes, not bad at all. I noticed the Minneapolis airport wasn't like an airport at all but more like a shopping mall. There are stores lined up on both sides of the terminal and a huge food court was located near our gate. Everyone got an hour or so to eat and explore the stores before the designated check in time. After lunch I went to play cards with Jason and 3 new friends: Pete, Darryl, and Mike. It was a good time to learn names and get to know them better, two things I would be doing a lot during the trip.

The flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo was predicted to be around 12 hours. We were delayed at the gate so the actual time on the plane was around 13 hours. At first I thought that I would never make it through 12 hours of just sitting around, eating, some walking, and watching movies or reading. Then I realized that that's what I've been doing almost every day since I graduated so I figured it wouldn't be "too" bad. My seat was near the back, one away from the right-hand side aisle. For the first part of the flight I read my book and tried not to sleep so I wouldn't miss dinner. After dinner I finished my book and took random naps up until breakfast. From breakfast until touching down in Tokyo seemed like one long moment. Everyone was restless from the plane ride and we were all ready to get to our hotel rooms and crash.

The delay at the gate in Minneapolis drastically cut down our time to get to our connecting flight in Tokyo. An airport attendant let our group cut in front of the line at the security checkpoint and we ran all the way to the gate. There was no waiting; everyone else was already boarded so we walked right on. This flight was scheduled around 3 hours. By this time, I was almost out of it. I had energy to run to the gate but the soft airplane seat and the warm blanket knocked me out. I turned down the first round of drinks and missed some sort of meal in order to sleep most of the way to Beijing.

I breathed a sigh of relief upon arrival in Beijing. I knew that we still had to clear security, pick up luggage, and go to the hotel, but at least none of that involved sitting on a plane. After picking up luggage, we walked out to the main terminal and Dr. Tai went to go find our tour guide. At first he didn't introduce himself so we just followed him to the bus. Later on he told us that his name is George and that he would be our guide throughout our stay in Beijing. We went directly to the Central Plaza Holiday Inn and checked into our rooms. I spent some time taking pictures of the lobby and then showered and went to sleep.

It might have been walking out of the airport, or on the bus ride, but somewhere along the way it hit me: I was finally in China. Walking on the pavement in China is no different than walking on the pavement in St. Louis; the big thing is that I'm walking on the pavement "in" China. I cherished this feeling and think about it to this day. There's nothing quite like being in a home away from home.

 

(一) 家的感覺

作者:岳群
翻譯:時報編譯組

2004年6月13日,我提起背包,跳上公車回家,一進房門就累得睡倒在床上。

這次,我的背包是個行李箱,公車是輛遊覽車,我的房間不是位在密蘇里州Chesterfield的家,而是處在中國北京中環的假日大旅館(Holiday Inn)。

我是岳群,今年18歲,即將成為普渡大學的新鮮人,甫畢業於聖路易西派克衛高中,我有了這個機會與22位聖路易大學高中的同學一道去中國訪問旅遊,同行的還有我的朋友,也是今年自聖路易拉法葉高中畢業的黃奕傑。我們這個團的領隊是聖路易大學高中的中文老師戴慶齡博士,還有隨行的另一位老師Bob Overkamp和他的太太Susan。我們在中國停留了寶貴難忘的16天,共訪問了中國北京、西安、洛陽、鄭州、南京、蘇州、杭州和上海八個城市。

雖然我們的行程是2004年6月12日出發,但是早在兩年前我們就開始了準備。2002年秋天,部份費用和表格都已繳交,行前會議也開過了,就在一切就緒時,大陸傳出了SARS的惡訊,戴博士祇得取消2003年的旅遊計劃而將之延到2004年。SARS風暴逐漸平息,我們再一次開始準備此次的旅程,戴老師召集家長、同學開會討論細節,我由於打工的關係,沒法參加開會而由父母親代表,他們帶回有關的會議資料,例如行程表、旅遊注意事項、攜帶行李限制和一些旅行期間生活上的規定,看樣子六月時我們一定會如期出發。我趁空跑了幾趟超市買了些零嘴(戴老師交待,如果在大陸飲食不習慣,又不能在街上亂買東西吃,行前先買些美國零食止飢是個好主意)。6月11日星期五的晚上,我的行李已打包好,一切就緒。6月12日,星期六,每個人都得在早上8:30以前到達聖路易林白國際機場,那是離飛機起飛的前兩小時。我早早地就到了,順利托運行李,時間掌握得不錯,半小時內我們通過檢查門,繳回護照給領隊,分發登機卡時,廣播器中已傳出登機的通知。

第一站先停明尼那波里,再轉東京,飛了約1小時40分鐘,我們到了明尼那波里機場。這個機場不太像機場,反倒像個大百貨公司,登機通道旁兩邊都是商店,靠近我們的登機門還有一個很大的飲食區。我們有一個小時可以逛逛商店,吃點東西,午餐後我、奕傑和團裡三位新朋友Pete,Darryl和Mike玩
了一下撲克牌,多認識些團裡同學的名字和朋友是我整個旅程中兩件時常要做的事。

由明尼那波里到東京預計是12小時,由於出關時有些耽誤,我們實際在飛機上待了13小時。我起初根本不敢想像在飛機上能坐上13個小時。但是事實上在飛機裡也不是那麼無趣,我坐在機尾,右邊中間的位置,飛行的前半段時間,我讀了一本書,吃了晚飯,然後打起瞌睡,直到早餐時間,這時大家隨著飛機的飛行和震動,也不怎麼睡得著,只是一心想著趕快落地到旅館去。

由於在明尼那波里的耽誤,我們到東京再接飛中國的飛機時,時間很趕,一位機場工作人員讓我們整團插隊,直接到安全檢查線前迅速通過,然後大家一路跑到登機口,一點沒有耽擱,我們全上了飛機。由東京到中國北京的三小時飛行中,我撐不下去了,體力全用在東京跑飛機,一上去飛中國的飛機後,柔軟的座位,溫暖的毛毯一蓋,我連飲料也沒喝,大概也誤了一些餐食,就立刻睡著了。

放鬆地吸了一口氣,這下真的到了北京,雖然還得通關檢查,拿行李,搭車去旅館,但起碼不必再坐飛機了,出了機場,隨著當地的導遊George上了遊覽車,直駛北京中環假日大旅館,這個旅館可是漂亮極了,我照了些大廳的相片,沖個澡得睡覺去了。

我終於到了中國,走在北京的人行道上和走在聖路易的人行道上沒有兩樣,但重要的是我是走「在」中國的人行道上,直到今天我還懷念珍惜著那種感覺,一種離開家卻有著還在家的特別感覺。

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