Off to the Birthplace of Kites

Ali Fujino
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It was the year 1988. There were many firsts this year. It was the first time I experienced China. It was the first time I met Scott Skinner and the world famous actress Gloria Stuart. It was also the first time I met kitemaking enthusiasts from around the world, including the infamous David and Dorothea Checkley of Seattle, Washington.

Let’s start with China.

1988 was the opening of a “new” China to the western world. The leadership of Mao had passed, and China was wiggling its way into a more modern and more capitalistic way of life. After centuries of being an insular country, she opened her doors and asked people to look in. My photos illustrate the way it was in 1988, which is nothing like China today. It was a youthful country interested in being a part of the modern international world, lusting after a lifestyle of personal wealth and a culture of personal independence. I was NOT the first westerner to visit China, but I was a part of that door opening. I found there was little infrastructure for the western visitor. There were few hotels and very few restaurants. China greeted us with as much hospitality as a restrictive government would allow, but we were not allowed to explore China on our own. We always had a Chinese government tourist guide. The faces of the people in my photos show it all. It was still a country with rules and regimentation.

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