loren Eric Swanson: Great Wall and Greater Foot Massage

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Great Wall and Greater Foot Massage

Apart the great Chinese food (I look and feel like I'm now part of the double-Chin dynasty) the one thing you have to see a couple hours drive from downtown Beijing is the Great Wall. Truly one of the seven wonders of the world--along with the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal in Agra and Caesar's Palace in Vegas. Built over several hundred years the wall was designed to keep out foreign invaders. Interestingly enough as thick as the walls were they were breached, not by overcoming these awesome structures but by bribing the gate-keepers! Another interesting thing about the wall apparently is not true. Haven't you heard / read that the Great Wall was the one man-made structure one could see from space--no way! Unless we're talking about the wall being visible from a hot-air balloon.

Chinese words and pictograms are very interesting. Because Chinese words don't share our Latin, Greek or Arabic roots there are no cognates as there are in the Romance languages. Words are very literal and stories surround the pictograms. So for instance the word "contradiction" comes from a story of a craftsman who advertised that his shields could not be pierced by any lance and his lances that could pierce any shield. Once again...the contradictions and paradoxes of the East. And we did check out the word for "crisis" which indeed is the combination of the words "danger" and "opportunity." When Chinese pictograms and concepts are literally translated into English one can usually understand the meaning but the transcriptions are written very oddly. So for instance the handwash packages they gave us on the plane read "Hygiene Wet Turban Needless Wash." Or lastnight at the Chinese Acrobatic Performance, the kids performed some amazing feets while the songs were put up for translation on the walls. One translation talked about the "acerose osier." Those are real words in the English language, meaning "needlelike...willows, as the red osier, having tough, flexible twigs or branches that are used for wickerwork." I've also enclosed a picture of the rules posted before mounting the Alpine Slide. Please to enlarge photo click computer aparatus two times to observe results you desire.

This evening Sam, Nancy, Liz and I got Chinese foot massages. First they place your feet in nearly scalding hot water along with a couple of tea bags. Apparently this is why our tea has such an unusual flavor in the morning. Because those who practice Chinese foot massage believe that every vital organ is somehow through the magic of organic fung shway mystically, if not physically connected to the foot, the best and most efficient way to massage one's innards is through massaging the feet. They punch, they pinch, they squeeze, they pull, they caress before slapping your feet silly--but all in all it is 45 minutes of...well...foot massage.


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