BETH CURTS Beth Curts, who met up with her daughter Betsey Giammattei in China, pose for a photo of them in Chinese garb in Bund, Shanghai.
Last month the mother-daughter duo met up from opposite ends of the East Coast in China, the third-largest and most densely populated country in the world.
Giammattei, 21, a 2012 IB graduate of King High who in May of this year earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Barnard College in New York City, left the day after graduation on a six-week, mainly solo excursion.
Four weeks into her daughter’s stay in China, Curts flew from Tampa to join Giammattei and take part in her daughter’s college graduation gift to herself.
Giammattei developed a profound interest in the Asian country in 2009 while studying at China’s Qingdao University as part of a first-time collaborative effort between the University of South Florida, Ohio State and the office of Chinese Language Council International.
In addition, she took Chinese language classes at Barnard College and enrolled in a summer Chinese language course at the University of California Berkeley, where she met her boyfriend, Brendan, from San Francisco, where she will soon begin her career at IBM.
From the money she saved as the result of a paid college internship and babysitting jobs, she paid for her own airline tickets, meals, train fare to several provinces, lodging at hostels and miscellaneous expenses, including souvenirs.
Giammattei spent an entire year planning her trip, including purchasing her flight tickets in November when the cost was to her liking.
“I also got a book about China for Christmas and I read it from cover to cover,” she said.
Her overseas flight landed in Shanghai off the coast of the East China Sea and she made her way to Yunnan Province in southwestern China, where she mainly hiked and took photos of the area’s lush landscape. She also took a two-day cooking course in Dali, Yunnan.
“I love to cook, and the lessons were given out of a woman’s kitchen. Each day we’d go to the market and pick out what we needed,” said Giammattei, who described most of the Chinese dishes she ate as inexpensive, spicy and very tasty.
Giammattei blogged her daily experiences.
After a couple of weeks in Yunnan, she met up with Brendan in Chengdu, Sichuan, and during their week together they climbed Mount Emei, known as one of four sacred Buddhist mountains of China. In addition, they explored some of the valleys and gorges of what Giammattei described as ruggedly beautiful terrain.
She and her mother greeted one another in Guilin, Guangxi, and spent the next two weeks exploring big cities and playing the role of tourists. In Yangshuo, Guangxi, they went river rafting and experienced their first-ever mud bath inside a cave.
They also spent one night in a mosque and two nights in Longji, Guangxi, where they visited the area’s rice terraces.
And not at all surprising, the two women did some shopping.
“Betsey is the guru of haggling,” Curts said. “We bought lots of stuff so we also bought a new suitcase to bring it all home.”
Giammattei plans to keep up her command of the Chinese language and wants to return to China at some point in the not-too-distant future.
“But when I go it will be in the winter when it’s not so hot,” she said.
Curts was grateful to have the one-on-one time with her daughter, especially knowing those times will become less frequent after her child settles in on the West Coast, where she hopes to stay.
“I knew by the time that Bets bought her tickets (to China) she wasn’t going to be back in Tampa,” Curts said. “And I love to travel.”
Beth Curts and her daughter Betsey Giammattei enjoy their time together at Suzhou Lingering Gardens in Jiangsu Province, one of China’s most famous gardens. COURTESY PHOTO
Source - tbo.com