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Liz Bickel | all galleries >> Places Around the World: Multiple Galleries >> Around the World: Multiple Galleries >> China > "The East is Red"
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Nov-2018 copyright Elizabeth Bickel

"The East is Red"

Shanghai, China

The above photo fits the February 2022 Challenge theme.
Although it’s not predominantly red in color, my photo of a city in Communist China is tied to “RED” (a play-on-words of the color) in the title of both a song and a movie.

The East Is Red (song)
From the Smithsonian
“The Smithsonian (Washington, DC) holds incredibly diverse music-related collections; were they all assembled in one place, the Smithsonian would be the largest music museum in the world.”

From Wiki:

Also a movie
The East Is Red (1965 film)


A full year before COVID first appeared in a different region of China, I caught - while I was in Shanghai, China – one of the worst respiratory infections that I’ve ever experienced during my many, many, many years of international travel. I know I caught that illness in Shanghai because a tremendous number of people, who I was around, had a deep, very loud cough: a type of cough one might use the old saying that it sounded like “coughing up a lung.” Complaints of very sore throat and disabling tiredness also accompanied that virus. Taking all kinds of precautions, I had hoped to be able to avoid catching whatever was going around in Shanghai. However, I wasn’t so lucky. I came down with the same symptoms as those around me.

I then had to seek emergency medical care once I reached Hong Kong some days later. I was traveling solo; so, the whole situation rather panicked my husband back home. Because I was so sick and stuck in bed sleeping 23 out of 24 hours a day for over a week, I had to postpone flying home until I was well enough to fly... For the record, that virus was not COVID. This happened close to a year before the Wuhun virus emerged. The doctor, treating me, also said that it was not Flu. Being extremely ill, I was repeatedly tested for Flu and other known viruses. Who knows what that illness was? The tests only said what it wasn’t… That “Chinese” virus stuck around with me for a while after I finally was able to get out of bed. I also had to continue to see my doctor a few times even after I finally got home. However, I eventually did get well with no aftereffects.

That was at the end of 2018. When I heard on the US news at the end of 2019 about a “novel” respiratory virus originating in China, it got my attention before most anyone else in the US seemed to notice the news story. Obviously having been so sick from a pretty severe Chinese virus, even the idea of something (which was a lot worst) coming out of China was unsettling. At that same time, I was also preparing to travel again. Therefore, I continued to pay special attention to whether this new “novel virus” was going to remain just a regional Chinese thing or if it would go on to have a wider range of spread that might affect my own travels.

The World now knows what later happened concerning that obscure 2019 “novel coronavirus” that almost no one in the US (and other places) thought would ever affect them.

I haven’t traveled anywhere internationally since late 2019… My 2020 travel plans (several) were cancelled. Luckily, my memory of the Shanghai respiratory virus made me more cautious than I might have been otherwise. Had I not cancelled my early 2020 trip, I would have ended up in the middle of the dangerous, mass travel chaos that COVID created in February/March 2020. It was "lucky" that I was spared that. Even so, to this day, I still have mixed feelings about cancelling. The logical side of me says I did the right thing. The emotional side of me says that I missed part of possibly good life experiences that can never be recaptured. It's now been 27 months since I've been anywhere. I may not be a teenager, but that's a big chunk out of life. It will soon be 24 months since the last time, I experienced even normal, mundane, regular everyday life as I once knew it.

Although a lot of younger people are now choosing to ignore the pandemic, who knows when this pandemic will ever allow me to return to my old life? Next year? A little longer? A lot longer? Ever? Meanwhile, I dream of a return to a normal life AFTER the current world pandemic has faded into history. I dream of someday being able to return to China to “see” all those things I missed the last time. Although I'd previously been to China more than once, I actually had started to plan (during still Pre COVID-times) yet another visit to the country. There remains so much there that I'd like to see and do. I also could say the same about so many other places in the world.

Unfortunately, no one can even begin to really guess as to when this COVID pandemic will fade enough for international travel to truly be as “safe”; as it once was with the world’s "old normal". One also can’t predict when the China might again open her doors? Or if US citizens will even be welcome. Beyond the pandemic, world politics are now rather on edge at the current time and are becoming more & more so as the days pass.

Seeing this photo (and my entire Shanghai gallery in my archives), makes me restless. I want to travel again. I want to once again experience different parts of the world. For most of my life, travel had been a major part of my life. I now so long for my old life that had been a constant adventure. However, despite being fully vaccinated (to whatever degree is currently possible), I also respect the danger of COVID. As much as one might wish it to be, the pandemic is not over yet. So, my world travels are currently confined to my photo archives…

Maybe I need to now edit more travel photos; ones that I had put aside on the back burner after I had finished selling others. Unfortunately, every time that I look at my travel photos now, I long to travel again. Then, I return my older travel photos back to the inactive archives. Disinterest seems to ease the feeling of wanderlust. Although no longer a teeny bopper, I still prefer to look forward to new adventures, rather than merely sitting at a computer just looking back at old ones. I didn't plan to be in a position of only be able to "look back" until I was well up in my 90's at least. But here we are & that's still a very, very long way off.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300
1/100s f/2.8 at 54.1mm iso100 full exif

other sizes: small medium original auto
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Kevin D Warren26-Feb-2022 22:55
Some engaging commentary accompanying this great shot. Getting caught in the covid/travel chaos would have been a nightmare and glad you missed out on that at least. Who knows what the new normal will be?
Mieke WA Minkjan11-Feb-2022 12:42
interesting story Liz about traveling and getting sick while traveling on your own. V
So good you recovered well.
Hope we all can travel soon again
Chris04-Feb-2022 17:49
That was a frightening experience for you and your family.
The image and song title pair each other well.
larose forest photos03-Feb-2022 18:59
I love this shot for the title, it couldn't be more perfect. I also enjoyed your commentary, it is so apt for these times and what many of us are thinking, feeling. V
carol j. phipps03-Feb-2022 00:40
The picture fits , of course. Thanks for sharing your personal story in China. So sorry you had that health trauma.
Helen Betts02-Feb-2022 20:49
Quite an interesting story that makes me wonder what else will come out of China. Although I didn't travel for my own job (it can be done anywhere with an Internet connection), we traveled extensively when Tim was in the Foreign Service, and as much as I didn't want to move overseas again, I miss the sheer excitement of exploring new places, so I can understand your wanderlust quite well.
John Reynolds LRPS02-Feb-2022 17:06
Great image and interesting thoughts.
joseantonio02-Feb-2022 11:56
Thank you for sharing your experiences....I canceled my 2020 planned tips and was lucky to recover all my money back.V