By LIZ MARCHI
It’s 4:40am and I am wide awake. We returned from China 36 hours ago and I have slept 16 of those. China has blocked Google, so I have spent the other 20 hours eating a hamburger and Googling the answers to a long list of questions I have about a country of 1.5 billion people, magnificent culture, soaring buildings and the world’s only Maglev train which travels at 431 km per hour and processing people, so many people. I have known for a long time that my idea of being rich and well off is living on this beautiful piece of earth called Montana, on a ranch with clean air and a river that runs clear. The more I travel, the more I treasure each breath I take here.
I love this Mark Twain quote, “TRAVEL IS FATAL TO PREJUDICE, BIGOTRY, AND NARROW-MINDEDNESS, AND MANY OF OUR PEOPLE NEED IT SORELY ON THESE ACCOUNTS. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” One of the things that most surprised me were the number of Chinese tourists who, for the first time, are seeing their own country, learning about their own history and seeing the truly astounding infrastructure of Chinese cities, airports, highways, buildings, buildings, buildings…Shanghai Harbor is a spectacular display of modern skyscrapers all built in the last 20 years. China has more than 30 cities of $5million people.
Big decisions, like the cultural revolution and building the world’s first Maglev train, are made by a small group of people. Some decisions are disastrous and others pretty amazing. Our tour guide said, “there are too many people on China for us to vote or have a say.”
I did miss the New York Times and the Economist which are also blocked in China. No Facebook was like withdrawal for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the break from the Presidential rhetoric although I have a much deeper appreciation for the freedom we have to engage and speak out and be a part of the process which, at his highest and best, ensures the orderly transition of power in our country.
Please vote and travel if you can. A vacation is something altogether different from experiencing another culture and place. Be grateful for our air and water and always defend this planet, our island home.
Liz Marchi lives on a ranch in Polson, Montana with her husband Jon. She is the Fund Coordinator for the Frontier Angel Fund and spends a lot of time thinking and learning about entrepreneurs, the economy and Montana’s unique place in the world. She has three daughters and a stepson and daughter and a grandchild. She graduated from Hollins College and is entering the final quarter of life…unless we go into overtime.