TRAVEL: South Waltoner's adventure across China

Published: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM.

When Hu Lin was accompanying eight of us from the Beijing Airport into the city, he said that he guessed we as children had thought about and perhaps even “tried” to dig all the way to China. Well, he added, Chinese children experience the same thoughts about digging through to America.

I guess all of us had considered this — certainly I did — as we all laughed. Then Hu (this is his surname but he indicated we should use it) asked an interesting question: what facial feature differentiated Chinese from Americans?

The eight of us looked at one another, perhaps a bit embarrassed, as each of us was thinking “slanted eyes versus straight eyes” but no one wanted to say anything inappropriate. Imagine our surprise when he said, “Americans have such big noses; we have small noses.”

He was not trying to be funny; he was totally serious. He did notsay Chinese had flat noses, but we noted he most definitely did. Thus it was that throughout our sojourn in China and Tibet, our group — adding up to 23 when we reached our hotel —laughingly referred to ourselves as “Big Noses.”

Hu is a 33-year-old young man who speaks English fluently — American English, not British or Australian. He is quite intelligent, knowledgeable, humorous — what we would call an “All-American Man," if he were American. He accompanied us through the entirety of our trip, being joined at each new city by a local guide. We could not have been in better hands.

This was very good as there were some places we needed to be in good hands.

On our third day, we drove three hours out of Beijing to get onto the Great Wall. Everyone who goes as a tourist to China goes to the Great Wall of course, but Hu took us to an area where we saw not one other Western face, only locals as it was a holiday weekend for the Chinese.

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