Back to the lap of luxury

Two full days of translation with Yang and it was done at midnight Wednesday, just in time for my bus to leave at noon on Thursday. I felt extremely lucky it was done though not without ample anxiety. Guessing people’s intention is the hardest thing, even though I finally believe he truly wanted to help, in a world where money paves the road for anything, it’s really difficult not to feel that when he slowed down on our progress, it was a sign of some needs.

On the morning of my last full day in Fugong, I was walking down the road to find some big bamboos to shoot and Ah-Yoo picked me up in his motor-taxi. He is one of the few I don’t have to second guess his niceness, and he has the wisdom to see the importance of keeping what’s unique about themselves. That budding desire to learn will keep me motivated to make that DVD I’ve promised to send him.

A sunny Thursday for my departure. It has been a full month. My overloaded backpacks weigh up to probably 70lbs, plus the Qiben I bought from Ah-Che wrapped in a one yuan nylon bag, plus a few bags of tea and herbs Kang sent through his friend.

Without much fanfare, I left feeling accomplished.

A few hours by the river and the bus stopped by border check point, one last thing to concern about because of my passport, but for whatever reasons, when everybody got off the bus, I seemed invisible to the three guards checking IDs among passengers. They simply missed me.

Full moon on the mountain as the bumpy ride crossed over to the watershed of the second of the Three Parallel Rivers, Lancang, the up stream of the Mekong. The unique position of these three rivers, Nu/Salween, Lancang/Mekong, and the Yangtze can only been seen on maps, but the whole region is so full of varieties in nature and in human culture there is really nothing parallel like it in the world.

Full moon and mountain hold too much emotion in me. Constant landscape contrasts the moving bus, the ever changing thoughts. In such background, the feeling of smallness and how temporary our existence is are so overwhelming one has to take comfort in every single breath. The space between thoughts, perhaps it is how.

By midnight, the bus already reached the highway to Kunming and by dawn, it arrived at the station in the city, a short taxi ride away from the Art Institute where I would meet Prof. Zhang, a professor in ethnomusicology.

I waited until after 8 before calling him and he soon came out to take me to his apartment by the college campus. Even in his late sixties, Prof. Zhang still looks very active and walks like someone half his age. We had a nice chat and I showed him a little bit of my recording. We both agreed that Ah-Che’s playing was good but not the best, but the daily lives of his family, the fact that he actively practice all three traditions important to their culture is well worth recording. I take comfort in knowing that. He insisted on having lunch with me at their faculty cafeteria before sending me to the airport.

After an hour of delay, I flew home in one piece and happy to Beijing on Friday, the 10th of April.

There is no place better than home with parents who have been worrying so much about me but always supported me unconditionally to do such crazy things. I’m the luckiest child in the world.

And that concludes this section of my making-of.

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