On Saturday morning, I bid an emotional farewell to a bunch of high school students in HuangShi in Hubei 湖北, after a challenging week teaching them a bit of English, making digital maps, and sharing with them about life. In the afternoon, I left HuangShi for Wuhan, exhausted but on a high. On the one hand, these students are in a better position than many generations of predecessors. On the other hand, they still so desperately need exposure to the wider outside world, and opportunities to escape from their current stations.
On Sunday morning, I left Wuhan 武漢 for Hong Kong. The river flowing from the right (south-west) to the left (north-east) is Chang Jiang 長江, or Yangtse 揚子江. At the top of the photo, on the east side of Chang Jiang, is Wuchang 武昌. Wuchang is, of course, where the 1911 revolution started. The river flowing up the middle of the photo to join Chang Jiang is Han river. To the left (north) of Han River is Hankou 漢口. Hankou, at one point, had concession territories owned by five nations: England, Russia, Germany, France, and Japan. To the right (south), Hanyang 汉阳. Hanyang used to have one of the most importatn arsenals in China. So Wuhan occupies an important place in the modernization of China. Every time I come here, I was made to ponder the changes in China in the past hundred years or so. Having reeled from one disaster to another numerous times, China seems to be finally steadily climbing out of the depth of dispair. Yet the road to modernization ahead is still long and hard.
I spent Monday in Hong Kong, working in the university. A new head has been appointed to our department, and I am looking forward to have reduced administrative responsibilities. But the new administration has not said much yet and we are not sure whether there might be some major changes. Hong Kong is arguably the best developed among all of China. Yet it is facing an uncertain future and the leadership is not inspiring a lot of confidence.
On Tuesday, our family flew to Los Angeles and then went up to Shell Beach near San Luis Obispo up the California coast - on the opposite side of the Pacific. It can be considered one of the most developed place on earth. The people are prosperous. The houses are big. The roads are wide and straight. The sky is blue despite the soot from the forest fires. The oceanic view is just fantastic. We spent a lot of time watching the sea guls, the pelicans, the waves, and the sunset. From some perspectives, it can be considered paradise on earth.
In four days, I seemed to have passed through several ages of development. Is California the future China? I wonder.