Bea Fontana/Gene Thaxton in China
June 27, 1997
With China headlining the news recently, it was instructive to share Bea and Gene’s recent tour of China at last month’s Potluck.
Bea’s beautiful poster-mounted photographs and Gene’s slides and peerless narration were a special treat (OK, so maybe I am a wee bit biased!).
The juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary cultures and practices made for an emotional (as well as intestinal!) challenge. Arm and leg power contribute greatly to the construction of modem edifices, as it did in the past for such as the awe inspiring Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Soldiers of Xian. The vast majority of the people eke out a living on the land and rivers — sometimes in full view of 5-star hotels. The coal-fed smog and the congestion in the cities put breathing space (both internally and externally) at a premium.
The strict government control of the tourist itinerary contrasted sharply with the friendliness of the common people when they could be sought out (which Gene and Bea managed, by subterfuge, to do occasionally!). Would that such rapport they then experienced could become universal.