Published: January 21st 2012January 21st 2012
Forgetting the long introduction and insight into my life ambitions and dreams I’m just going to start my blog with telling you my story of this very day. After all this is all we’ve really got, today. And my ‘today’ was one to be remembered, whether I want to or not. So this story starts out in Suzhou. Suzhou is a city in China which was stamped with the label of “Venice of the East” a long time ago and later bulldozed and modified as most cities of China today are. However Suzhou is full of charming canals and side streets where bicycles glide through a China that is mixed with the present and past. Through my eyes it is a place to slow down and relax as that is exactly what I came here to do.
The district in which the city lies is dotted with pleasant canal towns and today I decided to get lost in one of them. I picked a town named Lushi due to its easy access and a bus journey which reached into my pocket and fumbled for a tiny four Yuan to get there. Stepping from the town’s entrance bridge onto the ancient cobbled roads Lushi seemed the perfect place to spend the afternoon. I was certain I was the only foreigner in town and although my smile didn’t cut it with some weary locals some of them seemed ever so pleased to invite me into their world. After a hefty bowl of noodles and a few photos being taken from my camera I decided to wander down some back roads, off the beaten track as you would call it. It was like I had stepped into the past and a whole other world was watching me slowly meander my way into the unknown. My thoughts of imagining China in a simpler time were soon interrupted by the eagerness of an old man. He wanted me to take a photograph of him which is usually not the case so I grabbed my opportunity. He led me to a bridge where he looked into the sunlight and posed with a grin on his face. I was delighted. I was also tripping over my poor Mandarin skills but somehow we still were able to understand each other. This short but sweet photo-shoot ended with this man inviting me to sit on a step with him. The steps owned to a barber and peering into his shop I felt an insight to a scene shot years before. Children’s hair was being cut with razor blades and scissors on a retro dentist chair. The grubby room was accommodated by a line of waiting customers who were humming to classic Chinese tunes. I’m not sure whether you as a reader will think what happened next was for better or worse; Entertaining I guess.
I decided to head back to Suzhou and as I was almost at the bus station I was confronted with a Chinese man. He could speak good English and he was eager to talk to me. After a few facts exchanged he asked me if I wanted to get a ride back to Suzhou with him and his mother. After being persuaded I agreed and we went back to find his mother. An hour later after wandering to the car the long way and posing for numerous photos besides lakes and bridges this man, a 30 year old man who worked with computers, was telling me he was going to visit me in another city and that he wanted me to be his girlfriend and stay in Suzhou. Hello awkward situation. Fumbling my way through this mess I got myself into I introduced some imaginary friends waiting for me back in Suzhou and a boy that I had a thing with up in Beijing – my real next destination. Relief swirled through me as we reached the car and were on our way back, however this man wanted to take the long way home and his mother wanted to stop in a tiny town to buy fruit. So there I was, with no way back home but with this man whom was reaching to hold my hand, his mother buying and giving me fruit and the locals wide eyed and fascinated by this foreign girl who could only go with the flow and hope that she would be winding down with a beer at the hostel in no time. Back in the car more pleas of “my mother really wants you to come to diner and be my girlfriend and I can drive you to Shanghai to catch your train to Beijing, don’t worry” came. I finally found the guts to lay down that I was not going to come to his house, even if it disappointed him and his mother and that he would find a girlfriend one day, just not today. Finishing off with a beer and a chocolate dessert, that’s todays story told.
Tomorrow I’m hoping to cruise before I hit up Beijing to celebrate the Chinese New Year with friends, who knows what will happen though J