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As you might’ve guessed by now, I’m back in the States, and valiantly trying to get back into the swing of normal life. I slept for 14 hours after I got home, and that still didn’t feel like enough! I used to scoff a bit at people who whined about jet lag, but now it looks like I’m one of them. 😉

I’m still processing a lot of what went on while I was there. Maybe it’s just the sleep deprivation talking, but everything I remember thus far comes to me in fits and starts, as some offshoot of a completely unrelated conversation… when people ask me point-blank how it was, I really can’t begin to encompass it, or even know where to start.

I have around 1500 photos to pick through, and there’s a lot that I didn’t get a chance to blog about… maybe when I’m better rested, I can yammer on about other things, such as:

Visiting the Temple of Heaven

The incredible, in-your-face relentlessness of street vendors and panhandlers

The contrast of modern metal-and-glass skyscrapers, and the dilapidated, falling-down remnants of the old hutongs just a few feet away from said skyscrapers

Clubbing on Saturday night with folks we met at Shichahai, including Beijing wushu luminary Wu Di (!!!). (haven’t seen any pictures yet, and I didn’t take any… really, would you bring your dSLR to a nightclub where you intend to dance until you fall over?)

Seeing the Shaolin Monk show… no photography allowed during that, unfortunately, but I did steal a shot or two. 😉

Observing the rigorous, nationalized sports system at work… where else would you see kids this age trained so hard?

My childish amusement over various attempts at English turns of phrase on the signage around town

The Beijing subway system… a train every 2 minutes!

The hell of trying to hail a cab, and get a ride back to your hotel, without also getting ripped off because you’re white and don’t speak enough Chinese to be useful.

A pretty darned amazing acrobat show!

Delicious, nutritious tea. Seriously, the Chinese know what they’re doing.

The ubiquity of American brands (I kid you not: the first thing I saw exiting the Beijing airport terminal? It was a Starbuck’s.)

The happy(?) workers littered throughout the various monuments and attractions we visited

Pearls, jade, and silk… possibly the most boring part of the trip for me, because shopping was probably the last thing I came to China for, but at least I got some pretty pictures, and we learned a little about how these items are produced and refined.

Gorgeously landscaped parks that always seemed to be bustling with people practicing various forms of movement, meditation, and exercise

My not-so-secret love affair with Chinese bakery goods. (and also red bean paste… <3)

Our last day in Shandong province–where Tai’an is located–when we visited a farming village of ~1900 people, and found a few eye-opening surprises

And, of course, I’ll never completely stop blabbing about wushu 😉

So, yeah, there are plenty of tales yet to be told… I’m still pooped out from all of this! But, I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. 🙂

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