The Ameican expat made the journey north from Hong Kong, where she is based, to meet up with Australian banker turned philanthropist Morgan Parker and the rest of the Wheel2Wheel team as they were meeting up with the charitable body’s organization in China, Gecko.
According to Morgan, who was on the first leg of his journey of 20,000 kilometres through 10 countries to raise funds for 10 charitable organizations, there a few hiccups and “copious unforeseen complications” along the way.
As a result, they had to come up with an alternate plan.
“We got there in the end and successfully arrived for what had become an epic visit,” Paige says.
The entourage arrived late on the evening of Thursday 3 March 2011 at the Riverside Retreat in Yangshuo, where they were met with open arms by their host, Shelly, who is the property’s owner. Mihela, the founder of Gecko, and her team, which comprised Tom, Winnie, and Flora, were also there awaiting their arrival. They had several meals together over the next two days, which Paige describes simply as “amazing”.
“Friday morning we were due at the Yangshuo Vocational School to participate in the Gecko curriculum with Mihela and her team,” Paige says.
Amazing and Cold!
“After yet another wholesome meal and plethora of food, it was suggested that we walk to the school through the villages and fields so we could see more of the local area, and wow! was it epic! The mountains, gardens, rice fields, landscape, wildlife, simplicity, culture, and temperature…it was just amazing and cold!”
Morgan, Paige, and the others arrived at the school while the students were having a break outdoors.
“Our arrival and Morgan’s stature created quite a stir and provoked many stares of curiosity and teenage giggles,” Paige says.
“Levina did an amazing job introducing Wheel2Wheel in Mandarin to an audience of 115 students and teachers, and then we all partook in the ‘green ambassador’ curriculum presented by Gecko. Experiencing first hand how Gecko has set out to change the think pattern of the next generation of China’s leaders was a lifetime experience for me both on a personal and educational level.”
The students weren’t the only ones to learn a thing or two.
“I myself learned a few new facts on sustainability and environmental education,” Paiges says.
“Their curriculum is a fun and engaging way to teach these children and encourage each of us to make responsible environmental decisions to protect our planet and environment.”
Exploring the Region
The group spent Friday and Saturday afternoon exploring the region’s various cultural attractions. One of the highlights was riding a raft down the Li River. Another was checking out Moon Hill.
They had something to drink on West Street, explored the side streets of Xin Ping, took part in a local tea ceremony in a small village along the banks of the river, ate many local meals together, and got to see an amazing light ahow, which uses the natural surroundings of the river and mountains as its backdrop.
“It was an epic trip filled with many fond memories, experiences, and laughs,” Paige says.
“I would like to thank Gecko and the team – Mihela, Tom, Winnie, and Flora – as well as Shelly and all the people that made our first charitable field visit such a success,” Paige says.
Paige’s unbridled American enthusiam caused a few raised eyebrows among the other participants.
“I was asked by Morgan at one point of the visit what I thought of my first visit to China,” Paige remembers.
“My reply was, ‘It’s gorgeous,’ and Morgan’s reply was, ‘I’ve never heard anyone describe China as gorgeous’.”
Both Morgan and Mihela giggled at Paige’s American enthusiasm.
“Maybe ‘gorgeous’ was not the correct word choice as ‘epic’ seemed to dominate the conversation during our visit, but by definition, ‘gorgeous’ means strikingly beautiful or magnificent, extremely pleasing, fine, or good,” Paige says.
“Either or, it was brilliant and makes me proud to be a part of this amazing expedition and supporting a group like Gecko.”
Morgan has continued on his journey. Leaving China for Vietnam, he has now entered the third leg of his epic journey.