Monday, October 22, 2012

Reminiscing: China, 2001

Eleven years ago tonight, on Monday, October 22, 2001, I was in Hangzhou, China, on what was to be the final international dance tour of my life.  (My first international dance tour had been in 1981.)
In honor of that fact and fitting in with Carmi's photo theme for the week on his Written Inc blog, I'm actually going to do something I have NEVER done before in all my blogging history: I'm posting pictures of myself.  (Okay, they're 11 years old.  Deal with it.)
So, what, exactly was I doing 11 years ago tonight?  This:

Not a bad place to be, come to think of it.  :D
(Yeah, I'm the one on the left.  Yes, my hair is wrapped into braided loops that still hang to my waist in the photo.  Yes, my hair really is THAT long; it still hangs mid-thigh.  And, no, I didn't actually take this photo -- obviously.  Yes, these are all digital photos of photos in a scrapbook; I don't have a scanner.)
And what had I done that day?  I'd visited a man-made island in the middle of a man-made lake.  Pretty spiffy, actually.
So, that was boat travel.  Not too exotic, I guess.  But since Carmi's theme is "travel," let me share a couple of other "travel" pics from the same dance tour.
How about travel in a cart pulled by water buffalo?

The curvy line at the top of the pic is the canvas top of the cart that I was riding in just ahead of my fellow dancers seen here.
Here's where we ended up after the cart ride: on a bamboo raft, wearing life jackets and plastic booties (because the loaded raft sank about 3 inches under water).

See the movie camera dude and the newspaper photographer in the background?  Yeah, we were being filmed for a documentary in China.
In fact, I was a rather popular subject for the photographers because of my unusual hair.
A few days earlier, while we were walking around before a performance at a festival, I was mobbed by photographers and made to understand I was wanted to pose for some kind of peace flag event.  Dozens of Chinese festival attendees were in line to sew a stitch of peace in the festival flag, but I was scooted up to the front quickly (while my dark-haired, shorter friend was left behind -- probably because she didn't look as "unusual" as I did in China) and made to sew stitch after stitch in that flag while smiling stiffly at 5 or 6 photographers.  The next day, one of our interpreters gave me this:

Under the pic of me is a quote from some interview that I assure you did not happen.  No one there spoke English, and my Mandarin is limited to "hello," "thank you," and "rabbit stomach."  (Not kidding, but it's a long story.)
What type of performances were they?  This group, which disbanded after the 2001 tour, was called the Rocky Mountain Dancers.  They were in existence from the late 1970s until 2001, and the director was George Frandsen, long time vice president of the (UNESCO) International Organization of Folkart (IOV), based in Vienna, Austria. (Apparently, he holds a different position with them now, as I found out by doing a yahoo search.) We performed exhibition square dancing, pioneer round dancing and reels, and Appalachian clogging.  (I loved, loved, LOVED it.)  Here's a pic of a few of us in costume at our hotel after a show.

That's me as the standing woman on the far right, holding my skirt out with my left hand.
And, since this is a travel-themed photo post, what's a photo tour of China without the Great Wall?
I'm the one on the right.  I'm not really short; it's just that the gal standing next to me is about six feet tall.  If you look closely at this photo-of-a-photo, you'll see that we're standing on the Great Wall (just outside of Beijing).
My favorite thing in China was most definitely the terracotta warriors in Xi'an, but getting good photos there with a point-and-shoot film camera was well-nigh impossible, so I won't post any of those.  Nor do I have room to post pics of us all picking tea on a tea farm, eating duck tongue at way too many banquets, standing solemnly at Tiannenmen Square while our Chinese college-kid hosts asked us why we were so sad in a "happy place" (the official version of Chinese history doesn't include what the West knows happened there in '89), touring a cigarette factory in one town because the Chinese government had it on our schedule, or dancing in front of over 17,000 students at a translation college, or parading for more than 20,000 people elsewhere.
It was a good last tour.  I wish I could still do such things again, but, even if the group had not disbanded and then lost half the costumes to a wildfire (the costumes were stored in a cabin, which did not survive the fire), I, personally, could not do this again, as my back injury prevents anything of the kind nowadays.  (I do mourn the loss.)
But thanks for wandering through my travel memory tonight. :)
(Tempppo, I hope you especially enjoyed it.)


  1. Thanks for nice post

    Best tours and travels

  2. Lisa, this is my most favorite TP posting you've done to date! It's an awesome Travel- travel post!

  3. Such fun pictures! Thanks for sharing such neat memories.

  4. A great glimpse into your past life, Lisa. Thank you - I know it's nerve-wracking to post personal pics!
    Your hair - amazing. and I love the dance costumes :)

  5. Good times. Thanks for the memories. You look great. Just ask the Chinese photographers. :)

  6. Great post, Lisa. Loved the water buffalo cart.

  7. Great photos. Do you miss the food? I bet it was nothing like the North American version.

    Wow, you hair is long. :D

    1. I am not the least bit squeamish about trying new foods. However, China was a trial. Because we were being filmed nearly all the time, I had to pretend to like quite a few "interesting" things, finishing up items I might not have chosen otherwise: fermented goose egg, cubed goose grease, stewed duck tongues, deep fried duck tongues, and camel hoof soup.
      When I had a choice, I went for noodles and vegetarian dishes. (I really got to like lotus root.)
      Near the end of the tour, they let us go to a McDonald's. Let me tell you that that was THE best-tasting Big Mac ever-- since it came after 3 weeks of duck tongue and goose grease.

  8. What an interesting post. It is fun to get a glimpse of some great memories.

  9. Very nice pics! Never been to China (or anywhere past Hawaii), meself.


  10. Looks like it was a fun trip, great shots!

  11. Wow, what an experience that must have been! And cool of you to share your pics...I'm still not entirely convinced the world needs to see pics of me. Yours are absolutely lovely!