Wrapping a neat little bow around China? Good luck with that.

I still have to look back at my last - and probably favorite - part of the ten days I spent in China. Hong Kong. I got just a taste - delivered in a whirlwind of exploration and not much sleep. But it was enough to amp up my sense of urban life halfway across the world. I was completely caught off guard by how much I loved the blend of East and West there. This part of my tour was really only about exploring - not the spoon fed exposure to this business I'm researching. So I could just soak up tiny bit of a city that has blended East and West into a fascinating stew.

But since my return to Seattle and the dozens of conversations both large and small about this trip to China, I'm finding it hard to wrap a bow around it. Without giving away everything I've been working on for Pelting Out - please bear in mind that this blog is meant to slowly let out some line on the reel that is a big book project. A few nights ago I talked with one of my best friends about the broad arc of all this - China, writing a non-fiction book when fiction's been the gig for so long, how it feels to be an American overseas these days. This friend has always been one of my most unflinching, spot-on sounding boards. And as such, he made me think about what any of us know about China - those who've been fortunate enough to visit, those who complain about their rise, those who couldn't care less about the subject. I found us debating whether there's a historical comparison for China's rise. Maybe you've got one, but we came up bupkis. So rather than look for a big summarizing construct...I'm done with the China shtick in this forum. For the time being. But not before I lay out a few of the things I did in Hong Kong that so entirely entertained me for that brief recent period.

I jostled my way around the subway system. I saw how people congregate downtown on a Sunday, with crowds of what appear to be foreign-born women dancing in the street and throughout Statue Park. I braved the crowds to ride the Peak Tram (the world's steepest funicular rail line) up to Victoria Peak. I tried not to interrupt morning exercises of all kinds in Kowloon Park. I wandered the Night Markets. I got chops made for family - carved marble ink stamps with Chinese characters spelling out our Western names phonetically that are used to accompany signatures. I took an amazing ferry cruise not just through Victoria Harbor and back, but all the way out to Lamma Island for a seafood dinner. I even got a full clinic on using chopsticks correctly - an embarrassing but validating discovery during an incredible three-hour dinner seated next to a friendly local who wasn't the least bit afraid of pointing out that my technique needed tweaking.

After all that and much more than you surely care to read, I came back to Seattle. Sated, challenged, and armed with stories and pictures and impressions I'm obviously still sorting my way through. Do I want to go back? Absolutely. But for the time being, I've got fish much closer to home to catch and season for serving. Thanks for reading. If you check back, I promise there will be more (and less - shorter entries hereafter) that I hope proves tasty. All heading in the general direction of a much larger project. Or so I keep telling myself.