Well, I've gone to China and come back. It was an adventure, in more ways than one. Here's what I wrote just prior to the trip...

Foreword (mid-April 2003)

Well, I'm headed to China, after long last. It's been a while since I've left North America (q.v. Homeland) and the first time into Asia.

I'm going to try to keep a running journal of the trip, though it's not clear how much internet connectivity I'm going to have over there. I've rigged this set of pages to allow me simplified updates... I should be able to post some entries via my internet-enabled GSM phone -- and maybe even post pictures if it's available... but since I've not been there before, this remains an unproven point. Stay tuned.

Why China? Why Now?
More than one person has asked either or both of these questions, especially with the SARS scare in full swing. The short answer is that it's a convergence of circumstance, and a limited-time opportunity. I've had a sabbatical I've needed to take for the last three years or I'd lose it (I tried a few times, but work schedule and travel opportunities didn't line up.) Earlier this year, a friend insisted that I have to see the Three Gorges before they were flooded and lost forever. I mentally stashed this recommendation away, and only hauled it out when I saw a Marin Community College District class schedule, in which they listed several learning vacation classes held by Travelearn, one of which was "China Highlights."

Hmmm... A sabbatical I have to use before the end of the year or I lose it, several recommendations to go to China, and what seems to be an intelligent alternative to motorcoach tourism (as in "to your left is the great wall of China, and coming up is the Forbidden City. In a few minutes you'll see...") I've been told not to travel to China in the summer or autumn months, when travel is hot and muggy (urk!) Besides, springtime is far more photogenic they say.

Great. I'll go!

Or maybe not. Suddenly, SARS springs up. It's mostly in Guangdong, a southern province, and I'll be going to the northern areas on this tour. Low risk. Except that the CDC and WHO are blanketing all of China in the "recommend you avoid" list.

Options: wait until later in the year? I'd rather not travel in the summer. Wait until next year? Three Gorges is that much father under water. When a doctor I consulted told me that they're thinking of renaming it MARS (for Mild Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and that healthy, non-smoking individuals are not in great danger if they follow some prudent sanitation steps, I decided this would be a reasonable calculated risk... and for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

So stay tuned. The bar at left will grow periodically -- as I get the opportunities to post updates on the trip. Clicking on a date will take you to the journal entry for that day.

And if you need to get in touch, hopefully I'll still be able to pick up email.

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