Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hello Dalai
Per a comment request (thanks, Stuart) for some of C's reactions to the People's Republic of Boulder, I'm gonna hit some high and low lights. It's her second visit to the States (we were back in May) and she's actually seen more of the US in about 20 days -- including one legendary locale I've never seen, Yosemite -- than I've seen of China in two-plus years here.
Her awe continues. "I'm not going back," she announced deadpan several times. "Have a good time back in China. I'm getting a job in this hotel, I think. Or maybe applying for political asylum."
She did return, of course. But I suspect Boulder's clean air, overwhelming blue skys (we were blessed with mild weather during our stay) splendiferous scenery, open spaces, lack of skyscrapers and little things I take for granted like a Safeway or King Soopers deli will linger long in her memory.
Unlike China where many tourist sites are more like zombie feed lots paved over with concrete footpaths and littered with debris and offal, she was mightly impressed with leisurely mountain drives, including one to the casinos in Black Hawk and Central City where she broke even on the slots and I won $15. "You're right. It's not the like the movies, not like Las Vegas," she observed, looking at the sparse groups of overweight, wheezing oxygen tank toting retirees and assorted jobless trailer trash who make for most of the "gamers" there on weekdays.
She'd been forewarned by my friend Chris who'd driven us there about the disconnect between Colorado casinos and Vegas. On the plus side she got a kick out of being photographed in front of an enormous US flag hanging on a wall in the 100-plus year-old Gilpin County courthouse and kept remarking that the mountain scenery, occasional mist and very light snow flurries on our drive looked like a "fairyland."
A Safeway grocery also scored high, though supermarkets are plentiful and mostly well stocked in China. But she hadn't seen 17 different kinds of laundry detergeant or 23 brands of peanut butter in one place. As such I had to accompany her aisle by aisle as she slowly inspected the plentiful overflowing offerings. I felt briefly like I was with some refugee from the 1960s era Soviet Union marveling at a store where toilet paper was sold in bulk rather than a square at a time.
Ultimately, we bought a box of La Choy fortune cookies for her to take back to her Chinese coworkers as there are none here.
Marketing idea! Export fortune cookies to China!
I also made a point of taking C to a Boulder Tibetan gift shop. She and I originally met and sparked, as they used to say, at a Chinese New Year event in a Tibetan bar in Shenzhen wherein a mild disagreement about Tibet's status ensued. I said it's a country, she said "it's not a country, it's part of China" and it's become a running joke rather than a diplomatic crisis.
"Look, it's the separatist Dalai Lama!" I said, showing her his beaming mug on one of about eight books about or by him. C had never seen his image before (it's banned in China) and she studied his forbidden face carefully.
"He looks evil," she said solemnly. I still don't know if she was kidding or not. And I still regret not finding a "Free Tibet" sticker for our soon-to-be new digs.
Thanks, Justin. Your mention of Colorado casinos reminded me of the time a few years back when my cousin and I visited the (now) casino town of Cripple Creek (in the mountains near Colorado Springs). He ended up winning almost $200 at the slots while I lost something like $50. Lousy Indians (just kidding). In fact, I'm not sure if those casinos were Indian run or not. But Colorado is a nice place. Maybe I'll move there someday. Southern California is becoming old to me. But anyway, I enjoy reading your blog as always, but I think you had much funnier stories to tell when you lived in Shenzhen. HK is just too civilized (mostly).
Hola Stuart. No Indian casinos in Colorado that I know of. But yeah, I have to admit you're right that life was stranger and often funnier fulltime in Shenzhen. Trade offs, doncha know? Nonetheless, I'm still trying to tip the balance.
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