Monday, April 14, 2008

Ghent, Yanan, and The People's Republic of China

While our visit to Ghent on Sunday afternoon was brief, it had all the makings of a post card visit. With just a couple hours to spare, we picked up a friend, then indulged in some frietjes and Belgian beef stew (a regional staple) at a landmark location - the De Witte Leeuw. This charming little café is situated on the irresistible Graslei - a medieval cobblestone path forming the very heart of the river-hugging historic district. From there, we admired the Gravensteen Castle (or "Castle of the Counts") at a distance, before ascending St. Micheal's Bridge for a few panoramic photos.

It was just enough to make us want to go back for more - as usual.

Our friend Yanan, originally from China, rode back to Zeeland with us, and the hour's journey seemed much shorter as we compared notes on the traditions of America, Europe, and China. Within no time we were back on the farm, where the guys were finding their land legs, firing up the grill, and preparing the catch after their day at sea.

What I discovered throughout the evening was perhaps even more mind-boggling than Ghent in all its splendor. Whether it's a personality trait, or a cultural trait of the Chinese, I can't be sure, but I was absolutely stunned at how intuitive Yanan was throughout the day, knowing when I needed help with Lukas, when I was thirsty, when Lukas was hungry, and even when our dog was ready to eat... without a single spoken word (and having only met us once before). Although uncanny, it was awesome to see someone that in-tune with those around her, and I hope to get to know her (and her German fiancé) better throughout our time in Benelux. Afterall, coming across people like Yanan on this journey called life ranks right up there with a visit to one of the world's seven wonders - in my book.

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