Thursday, I left Taiwan for China.  I left the apartment one day and a couple of days later, left the country so, it was a gradual departure and fairly unemotional.  I’d already said good-bye to the students (and I will miss them!) and made a final contact with friends.  My motto has become “See you on the other side” because I know I will meet my friends again!
I booked my flight to China prior to the lifting of the ban on direct flights and had a layover in HongKong which was pretty uneventful except that it lasted an hour or so longer than it should have.  The landing strip was not 50 feet from what ever body of water borders that piece of HongKong and the terminal is backed by a small set of mountains that rise from the sea.  I do have pictures!!  I’m having problems posting to my blog, so I’m keeping it simple for now.  The problem is that my blog (in fact everything on Wordress) is blocked here on the mainland.  I get get to other blogs, but not those hosted on WordPress.  I’m blogging by proxy!
So, I came in on Thursday and met with the students that evening.  What a great group of young people!!  Their English is as outstanding as their positive attitudes and pleasant dispositions. We’re working hard to prepare them for their year abroad.  Prior to their departure, however, they will have a Visa Interview conducted by the government to be sure the students plan to return home.  These students are working so hard that I hope they don’t get caught up in the politics! 
I recognize many facets of Chinese culture from being in Taiwan.  For example, our students get very tired in the afternoon.  They miss the naps!!  There are, however, many differences as well.  The most noticeable for me is the greater sense of space.  Buildings here are HUGE!!!  There are open spaces and things are clustered together in an attempt to use every meter of ground that is available, creating the feel of a frantic lifestyle.  Because it was raining when I came in, the air was quite clear, certainly cleaner than that which I left behind.  Last night, I saw the moon for the first time in over a year.  Today, however, the change in air quality is so noticeable that you could grab a handful of it to show the difference.  Yeah, it’s pretty bad.
There is a gas mask in my closet.  I don’t know why.

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