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World Traveling Worker, deep thinker friend and all around good-guy Greg Seats is reverting to email to update friends. Blogging attempts through the years seem to have a way of getting blocked over there. I'll post his emails up here from time to time if you all are interested.

Letter One 1 - August 29, 2010

It is an amazing time we live in. One day I'm kicking back in Southern California, and the next I'm immersed in the city of Gongqin, Jiangxi Province, China. Not only a different country, but a different
world.


I arrived at the Nanchang Airport and was met by Willow, one of the two young women who run the Foreign Affairs Office. After an hours drive to Gongqin, my new home and place of employment, we were met by Vanessa, the other half of the F.A.O. I had the choice of two apartments, one on the third floor and one on the fifth. I chose the latter, influenced by the lure of two air conditioners instead of one. After depositing my belongings, the three of us went to lunch.


Now I knew I was back in China: Fish soup (with the obligatory whole fish floating therein), local chicken (feet included), a spicy pork dish and cabbage with oyster sauce. And, of course, rice. I
had leftovers for two days.


Gongqing Cheng is a small planned city of around 120,000 people located in Jiangxi Province in the People's Republic of China. The city was founded in 1955 by volunteers from Shanghai.


The administrative center for this area is in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province. Rail and bus connections can be made to both the major cities of Jiujiang and Nanchang. There is a major toll road, 105/316 according to the Collins' map of China, connecting these three cities with Gongqing being roughly in the middle. Buses are plentiful (1,5 hours to Nanchang, 1+ hour to Jiujiang)
The local taxi service is cheap, reliable, and plentiful. In addition to this the province is also building a high speed railway connecting Nanchang and Jiujang with the only stop in Gongqing.


The area is noted for its ducks and many orange orchards are present. The ducks are important for their feathers used in production of clothes, the most important industry of Gongqing. The
Yaya company - once famous all over China for its winter clothes - is situated here. The tile and clothing industries are the base of the economy with clothing having reportedly 20,000 workers.


Gongqing College of Nanchang University, Nanchang University Poyang Hu Campus (with one new teacher) , is located here with an enrollment of over 10,000 students and like the city it is expanding. -Wikopedia



The city IS small, certainly by Chinese standards. And the taxis ARE cheap; 30 cents to anywhere in Gongqin. The air quality is good, again by Chinese standards (a lighter shade of grey), and greenery abounds. I am close to Poyang Lake (I am told it is an hour away by bicycle), home of a large bird sanctuary.



The Poyang Lake Bird Protection Area is a sanctuary for many rare species of birds. Measuring 224 square kilometers (about 86 square miles) in area, it offers a mild climate and a habitat rich in aquatic plants and fish with no industrial pollution. In winter, Poyang Lake is home to the world's largest population of birds.



Every November, thousands of birds fly in from Siberia, Mongolia, Japan, North Korea, and the northeastern and northwestern regions of China. These migratory birds spend the long
winter in Poyang Lake together with the native widgeons, egrets, and mandarin ducks, leaving gradually as the weather starts to warm in March. Poyang Lake is considered by many to be the largest bird sanctuary in the world. Every winter it plays host to 95% of the world's
white cranes, a fact that gives it two of its popular names: 'World of White Cranes' and 'Kingdom of Rare Birds.'



My fifth story abode has two bedrooms (one of which functions as an office space), a livingroom, kitchen and bathroom. There is also a balcony of sorts, less suited for relaxing than as a
place to hang my drying clothes. The apartment comes furnished with all the amenities; microwave, fridge, stove, computer, DVD player, television, washer, and, as noted, two air conditioning units.



I took a long stroll yesterday, and unlike my previous Chinese home du jours, a western face seems to be an unusual sight. Much attention was given in my wake, but it was all friendly; not the least hostile.
Many children; all cute and curious.



Today I met Lucy, a 3rd year student assigned as my 'helper;' the go-to-girl when I as a stranger in a strange land find myself in need of assistance. We had lunch, and she introduced me to the nearby shops and the layout of the campus. It seems to be a poorer area than Yiwu (my last Chinese location), and Lucy is a case in point. Her father was a farmer (itself not a lucrative occupation here) until he was injured in an auto accident and rendered unable to work. Her mother passed 7 years ago. When her father delivered her to the school as a freshman, he spent the night in the school courtyard, unable to pay for a hotel. Like many Chinese students I have met, Lucy has dreams of supporting her family
after graduation. She is an industrious young women, and spends her free time studying in the libray (as evidenced by her competent command of English). She presented me with a handwritten menu, listing about 30 dishes in Chinese with an English translation. This was copied from internet access via her phone; no computer for this student.



So. No ponderings or philosophizing at this point. Just getting settled in, and still trying to convince my body that day is night and vice versa.


Let the journey begin!


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