Sitting at the Hong Kong airport waiting to board an Air France flight for Paris, I wish I could walk right back out of the terminal. I love the China I experienced on a just-concluded 12-day Silversea cruise, and I wouldn’t mind staying a little longer.
When I boarded Silver Shadow two weeks ago in Seoul, I had not expected to feel the way I now do. I thought China would be an interesting trip, but I did not expect to be moved so profoundly. And while I realize there may be a lot not to love about China, the country I discovered was one of warm and welcoming people who had an easy smile and a contagious laugh. They showed respect and a sense of responsibility, and they were exceptionally courteous and kind not only to us but also to one another.
More than one person on our cruise remarked that we in the West could learn a lot from the Chinese. I half-joked that I was expecting some sort of spiritual transformation on this journey, and in fact, the China I saw — the temples, the Buddhist monks and ancient rituals such as the tea ceremonies — did cause me to slow down and reflect.
The parts of China I visited reminded me of my 14-year-old son. He’s approaching my height, 6’5″, and consequently has a voracious appetite and difficulty adapting to his extended limbs. China is like that: getting bigger and bigger in the world economy, and struggling to adapt to its new frame.
Some say that China will rule the world, in much the same way the U.S. did for the last half century. I’m not politically informed enough to say whether that would be a good or bad thing should it happen, but I do know this: Tomorrow in Paris, I will look back reflectively and think, “J’adore la Chine.”