Guilin, Guangxi, China
Marketplace: Anywhere, ChinaChina is overwhelming in so many ways that my favorite activity was attempting to be the calm watching a storm. My favorite place to do this--in Guilin, or anywhere in China, or in anywhere else, really--is to find the local marketplace and just watch the world go by. In Guilin, it will nearly always be raining, about to rain, or wet from a recent rain. Ideally, everyone will either have an umbrella or an ethereal air suggesting rain cannot touch them. Make sure you place yourself in one camp or the other, and if you choose the latter, make sure your camera is waterproof. Watch how the mud holds the water and reflects the gray light, creating shadows and more layers of texture. Watch a baby asleep in a fabric wrap on mom's back, his little limp feet bouncing with her every step. Watch insanely well-behaved toddlers keep step in ill-fitting, wildly colored clothing. Watch a scene that may be perfectly ordinary become extraordinary because you are lucky enough to be there to see it, half-way around the world from whence you came, oblivious to the rain.