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Published: October 28th 2012
Okay, so I wrote the three month blog late and this is being published early but I am making up the rules as I go so read on...
As I'm writing this I'm looking at a wall of random thoughts people have written. We find this type of thing at many guesthouses or hostels along the way. One bathroom stall in Xi'an in particular was pretty amusing. Some of the things I'm reading:
“Be curious, not judgemental” - Walt Witman
“May your life be filled with experiences and humbleness instead of money and pride”
“Life is like a wild tiger you can either lie down and let it put its paw on your head or you can get on its back and take a ride”
“Happiness is a choice”
“A mormon girl was here”
“If you read this you're crazy”
“DANISH GIRLS ROCK”
Obviously we can only read the English but there are things written in an abundance of different languages. Sometimes what people write is wise, other times it doesn't really make that much sense but to the writer it must be somewhat meaningful.
The last month for me has been the most difficult to date and when I come to a spot like this where I can read other people thoughts, it makes me happy. It is makes me happy knowing that other people have been here, they survived and they still had something funny to write on the wall.
Sometimes in China, I felt like a toy... a Caucasian female in China is oddly amusing to the locals. People would try to charge at least double what locals pay and sometimes get offended when my response was “that's too expensive”; many would take pictures without my consent and I would suddenly get a bright camera flash in my face; when asking for help laughing or a gathering of people were at times more common than any actual assistance. For a girl who too often takes these things personally, it has been hard.
Luckily, I gave you the bad news before the good... and the good news is: For every one person I came across who had no common sense, no manners and no understanding of public vs. private hygiene (all things being considered from a westerners perspective), I found an average of 2.5 completely loveable, giving, friendly, helpful, kindhearted individuals – and that doesn't include the people I didn't have the chance to meet.
Yes, I've seen more people use a public sidewalk as a washroom than I would like to admit. Yes, I have been spit on by a woman who was trying to hork out a window while I was in the backseat and received some unpleasant mucus pieces on my arm (Ty was beside her and didn't have it much better). Yes, the way Chinese people brush their teeth repulses me – if the world is trying to conserve water, start with teaching the Chinese how to dabble a toothbrush underwater and go from there instead of the puddle they somehow create from the simple task. Yes, I have cried in public because there is nowhere else to do so - the country is so overpopulated and local tourism is such a massive industry that you rarely find a few inches of personal space let alone a minute to have a private “What am I doing here?!” breakdown.
Fortunately, I think I have come out a stronger person. I know that when I come home to tell the stories of China they won't be full of bad experiences or less than appeasing living conditions. The things I will remember warmly and hold closest to my heart are the mountains; the rice terraces; the way the sunset between the karsts in Yangshuo; the number of times I looked at the clouds and felt like I was in a dream; the rainbow we saw in TLG; the tiny but mighty men and women who work so hard every day to make in their lifetime what some people make in a year; the colourful clothing of each different village; the boys who were playing with a praying mantis and grasshoppers as if they were little army soldiers; the 75 cent beer; the number of times I ate fried egg and tomato simply because when requesting the restaurant owners recommendation that's what I was served; the way I came to enjoy the odd spice that made my mouth tingle; the way every park is alive with people singing, dancing, playing instruments, cards and/or mahjong, men smoking, women knitting, vendours selling refreshments and so much more; the playful pandas; The Great Wall; getting locked on the roof of the monastery in Xiangcheng........................
Before we came to China I was very anxious and nervous, I knew it would be an extremely difficult country and didn't know if I would really like it. I didn't expect just how many challenges we would have to face and how much we have grown because of China. What surprised me even more so than the challenges, was how much I fell in love with China. I've said it before but I have to say it again, China is beautiful from the inside out. With so much history, so much culture and so much genuine beauty, it is very hard not to fall in love.
I'm in Vietnam and there is a typhoon hitting the coast. Looks like the next month will be just as eventful and educational as the last. Everyone's words of encouragement and support from home have been at times the only thing that keeps me going so thank you for joining me on this journey of a lifetime
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