Day 40 (4th of April, 2016) – Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Today it is the QingMing Festival, which is a public holiday in China. My attempt to greet a shopkeeper this morning with “Happy QingMing Festival!” was met with confusion, and a plea that I not ever say that again. QingMing Festival, after all, is all about remembering relatives and ancestors who have passed away. You should never wish someone a ‘happy’ QingMing. It’s not a happy day. It is when Chinese people traditionally “sweep the tombs”.
My teacher sent me a famous poem today, and I actually quite like it.
Literally, I would translate this as follows:
On QingMing Festival the rain falls gradually, on the street the pedestrians mourn.
I ask: where is the closest bottleshop? A cowboy points to XingHua Village.
That sort of a translation doesn’t really retain the poem’s beauty, though. Nor does it retain the rhyme of the Chinese version. Someone on the internet did a better job than I with the following attempt:
A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
The mourner’s heart is breaking on his way.
Where can a winehouse be found to drown his sadness?
A cowherd points to Almond Flower Village in the distance.
The sombre mood of the day didn’t bother me too much since my main activity was to finish the bulk of my study in order that I can be free of any work when the family arrive on Friday.
I was able to get the first sleep-in I’ve had in weeks, and I finished all of the work I had planned to do (despite me finishing many hours later than planned).
I still found some time to get out and explore some more of the surrounding university streets. I was lured in by the enticing slogan “Have some BRINKS” and risked it with another Chinese ‘fashion drink’, which thankfully this time did not have a foreign sediment at the bottom.
I also found my new favourite flavour of ice cream – red bean. I’ve noticed that the Chinese really like savoury flavours in their ice-cream, and I think it’s a superb idea.
While roaming the Quanshan area of Xuzhou, I also came across this remarkably Nationalistic restaurant adorned with the faces of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
Day 41 (5th of April, 2016) – Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Today was the last day of classes before heading off to Hong Kong. It was a long slog since I had a full timetable, but I always prefer to be pushed right to the end rather than to be gradually weaned out of a difficult routine.
Between class, I took a bit of a Western break by grabbing a coffee at the university café and catching up with Sydney friends online. These coffee shops have remarkably poor English printed on their menu (they’re the only shops in Xuzhou to have any English whatsoever). I think it’s more of a fashion statement than it is an effort to cater to foreigners.
Perhaps the best part of the day was meeting up with my friend Maggie, the one from last blog who posted on Wechat about me. She’s from Suzhou (different city, same pronunciation, same province) and she was kind enough to bring me back some local food when she was there for the long weekend. Her friend, Liu from Qingdao (home of Tsingtao beer), also gave me some food.
The white, pink, green and black foods are all glutinous rice cakes. They’re completely different tastes, but they all have the same doughy texture to them. Some of them have strange fillings made out of different bean sauces. The green and white cakes are meant to be heated up to become soft. I really, really like rice cake. So, I was over the moon to have received some high quality and authentic ones.
The top left is the food from Qingdao. It’s strips of squid (‘squid jerky’, I’ve decided to call it). Qingdao is a coastal city, and so much of its cuisine is seafood.
In return for the gifts, I promised Maggie and Liu that I would get mum to bring over some uniquely Australian foods. I’m not sure if Vegemite will meet this standard, but it will have to do.
This evening was spent packing for my flight to Hong Kong tomorrow while listening to Chinese music. I haven’t fully immersed myself into their music culture, but there are a few songs I do really like (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7uk0-vlpP0 for a bit of a Chinese rock anthem).
Day 42 (6th of April, 2016) – Hong Kong, (arguably) China
This morning I leaped out of bed as excited as ever that the time had finally come to take a break from the intensity of life in Xuzhou. My flight to Hong Kong via Taipei in Taiwan took off at 10:35am. By my own miscalculation,I missed the airport shuttle bus. Instead, I had to catch a taxi. Taxis in Xuzhou are a mixed bag. The drivers always offer up some good conversations, and the trip is certainly speedy and cheap, but they’re constantly looking for ways to pump up the fares. Whether that be taking a few extra turns to wind down the meter or getting multiple passengers at once, it’s always very frustrating. Today, right when I was pressed for time, the only taxi I could get already had a passenger in it.
I was standing on the main road of gridlock traffic and had watched dozens of occupied taxis drive past. I was pushed for time, and so I started pointing to my luggage and making “plane charades” to demonstrate the huge fare that a driver would score. Sure enough, a driver pulled over and promptly tried to kick out his existing passengers to score the big fare. I felt bad, but they had to cop it, because I had a flight to catch. The other passengers put up a bit of a fight, and eventually, the taxi driver let them stay in the car.
“Umm, why are there other people in the car?” I ask, probably quite rude in retrospect considering they were the original passengers.
“They’re going to the metro station, it’s on the way.”
“Are you sure it’s on the way? If it’s not, I’d rather get a different taxi.”
“No it is, it is!” he pleaded.
I decided to play the odds and stick it out. As with every other time I’ve played the odds in China, it ended badly, with a huge detour being made to drop the other passengers off at their destination and me having to cop the bulk of the fare.
The taxi to Xuzhou airport cost more than a train to Hong Kong.
My spirits brightened up when I saw a horribly ironic typo blazoned on the back of a woman’s denim jacket at the airport.
The airport experience was genuinely scary. Being a small city, Xuzhou airport doesn’t have any English and isn’t set out like a normal Western airport. The departure area was far removed from the single check in desk. Had I not understood a woman’s instructions, I don’t think I would have figured that out. Then following that, there was a lot of confusion at customs as to why I would be leaving on my student visa when it didn’t expire until August. I reached over to show them that I in fact had another visa just a few pages over, but was quickly told to put my hands back over the glass, and so I painfully watched them slowly figure it out over the next 5 minutes.
Either way, I eventually made it to Taiwan. The soles of my dirty Chinese shoes were abruptly disinfected.
In case the airport was too much for me, there was even an escape chute.
The first thing I noticed about Taiwan was that despite me actually finding their accents fairly simple to understand, the writing was completely different. They use traditional Chinese characters rather than the simplified versions used on the mainland, and I could understand less than half as much as I can in China. Observing China and Taiwan’s development since their split in 1949 is a real insight into how countries progress under two completely opposite governments. The Communist Party of China, which is able to enact sweeping changes much more easily (for better or worse), enforced a system of simplified characters to make the language more utilitarian and accessible in the 1950s and 60s. The Taiwanese government, however, chose to stick with traditional characters at the behest of its population who valued culture over practicality.
For me, at least, I’m certainly glad that China chose to switch to simplified.
The second leg of the flight with China Airlines was superb. The interior design of the plane was inspired by Song Dynasty art, which definitely has some of the most attractive art of any period of Chinese history. It was the best looking plane I’d ever seen. It also seems as if I had accidentally been booked in Premium Economy, was was an awesome surprise. I managed to snap this blurry pic in the haste of getting my phone out to capture the moment I was walking on.
Arriving in Hong Kong and catching the A21 bus into the backpacker’s hostel had to have been the most euphoric moment on the trip so far. This misty city with the infrastructure perfectly hugging the hills is just so picturesque. The clouds were like dandelions which had been shredded on thornbushes, whisping over the cityscape in light threads. I loved it.
I was flooded with the same emotions I had when I first arrived in this city in 2009. The first thing which struck me was the identical residential skyscrapers. They are so great in number that many of them are actually joined at the seam.
And if the apartment blocks are separated, it’s only ever by about this much.
Sitting on the bus listening to Hong Kong schoolchildren converse in English, seeing ANZ ads zoom past and Western taxi drivers with two or three mobile phones lining their dashboard showed me that I was really in a different world. I have never been to a city which is so truly multicultural.
On the drive in, I couldn’t help but laugh at this McDonalds booth which was set up purely to sell soft serves. Sweet potato soft serves, at that.
As we drove through the streets of Kowloon on the way to the hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui, the sheer density of this city really struck me. It’s almost overwhelming to think of how many people live in each building. But further, it is incredible to consider that each person comes from a completely different background and has a unique reason for ending up here.
One of the other things which strikes you is the consumerism and advertising. In Australia or America, advertisers are always looking for more subtle and discreet ways to enter their products into your subconscious. In Hong Kong, however, it seems that every business is committed to the more traditional billboard form of advertising, and everyone just stacks their signs on top of each in a bid to get the most prominent spot.
Arriving at the backpacker’s hostel was an interesting experience. It was good to be greeted by a sign which at least enforces some sort of civility.
I’m in a middle bunk in a room of 10. The others in my room are from Germany, Argentina, the Phillipines, England and some sort of Eastern European country which I can’t recall the name of. Staying there is just like a school camp. It is by no means luxurious, but the community is great. Lots of conversation was had about where the others are from and how they ended up here.
Graffitied all over the walls are messages from around the world.
This evening, I joined the owner of the hostel and a few of the other travellers to go to dinner at a restaurant near Temple Street in Jordan, which is a famous shopping strip.
The guy on the left is from a town near Düsseldorf in Germany, the bloke next to him is from Leeds in England, the woman at the head of the table is from Ohio in the U.S. and the guy on the right is from Hong Kong. Just outside of the picture is a guy from Beunos Aires in Argentina. Such international dinners always make for great entertainment.
The dishes included clams, deep fried tofu, beef noodles, sweet and sour chicken and oyster cake. Definitely a highlight meal of the trip so far. Through ordering, I quickly discovered that Cantonese and Mandarin share next to no similarities. Cantonese has NINE tones. For a Westerner, Mandarin’s four tones are barely distinguishable. I couldn’t imagine having to cope with nine.
We also ate some street food.
After dinner, we walked through the markets on Temple Street.
After exploring Temple Street, I walked with the others to the Tsim Sha Tsui boardwalk to look at the view of Hong Kong island. The skyline is just incredible. When we first arrived, the fog had set perfectly on the harbour, blocking some of the view. I managed to get a few photos of this before it drifted away.
The night ended with a drink at the Eye Bar – a rooftop bar next to our hostel. The view was completely gone because of the fog, but it was a surreal experience nonetheless.
Day 43 (7th of April, 2016) – Hong Kong, China
This morning started off with an early trip to Mongkok, which is just two metro stations north of the hostel. I kitted myself out with an Octopus card and got there in no time. I initially wanted to go because I thought I hadn’t been there before, but upon arriving, I realised that it was the location of the Ladies’ Market and Sneaker Market. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to buy much myself, but I still gave it all a look. You see a lot of tourists in these parts, though.
In order to try and get somewhere more local and with prices less inflated by hordes of tourists, I messaged the hostel owner to ask for some recommendations. He pointed me to Sham Shui Po, which is the poorest district in Hong Kong. It was a short metro ride away.
The markets of Sham Shui Po still sold a lot of the same stuff, but they were much more enjoyable because of their authenticity. I resisted the urge to buy a selfie stick, luckily.
I find the huge Hong Kong crowds quite exhilarating, but after a while it can get incredibly exhausting dodging your way through so many people. So, I returned to the hostel for a quick coffee and some WiFi before heading out to Hong Kong Island on the subway.
The first area I explored was Central. Central is without a doubt my favourite part of Hong Kong. Rarely do I see places so saturated with activity, but I love it. My favourite part of Central is the Central Mid-Levels Escalators.
It’s quite incredible how you can cross such vast distances in the CBD without even setting foot on the ground. Even more incredible, though, is how the second level of Central is like another city in itself. From the escalators there’s a whole other street front stacked on top of the original one. I don’t know how they get all their stock into the shops with the narrow winding streets.
I decided to get a Western meal (my first in weeks) at Maccas, where I could pay using Octopus!
Opal payments should definitely be introduced at other places around Sydney – surely there’s an opportunity there.
After lunch, I made my way to the top of the escalators to stroll down Hollywood Road, where I enjoyed a lot of the modern photography galleries and the occasional antique shop if I was feeling up to it. Some very cool places hidden here.
While trying to make my way to SoHo (South of Hollywood… it seems like every city has a ‘Soho’ these days), I ran into this Temple which was overflowing with incense.
Near SoHo, I was able to find my way to Club 71 (credit to Rob Lebusque) for a drink and some internet. Had a good chat with a few people there. A great speakeasy with friendly staff that I’ll definitely go back to.
There were plenty of British pubs in the area too which were full of 7’s fans.
Next, I headed to the Star Ferry for a ride back to Kowloon. I walked via Chater Gardens and checked out a cool rooftop venue called Sevva in Central nearby.
The ferry ride was fantastically cheap with great views. It was also surprisingly quick.
Next time I’ll catch it later at night in time to see the laser show at 8pm.
Following a brief rest back at the hostel, I ventured out to Tai Kok Tsui to visit an underground bar which Rob recommended specifically for me because, quote, “[it’s] full of hipster millennials doing too-cool-for-school stuff… more beards per square foot than a viking convention”.
Rob, I don’t know how you found this place, because I had to wind my way through many dark alleyways to eventually get to a local residential building. After quite literally hauling the double steel gates of the construction elevator open and ringing the doorbell of some guy’s house, I was genuinely worried that I was about to have my kidney stolen. It turns out that this place only opens when there’s a particular event on, the next of which is on Saturday. I might come back then, because it did seem like a pretty cool concept.
Visiting that place got me into the mood of adventure, so I went through a few more random buildings in the district stopping by each floor to see what business was there. I was told about a hidden bar on the other side of the city called the “Ping Pong Factory”, so I quickly jumped on a train to go and see what the fuss was about.
After a long subway ride listening to a group of Australians taking business calls, I finally reached my destination. The club reminds me of the ‘Fridge Door Bar’ in Niseko, Japan. It has a tiny door which served as the original entrance to the underground ping pong training facility. Pry open this red door, though, and you’re faced with the boom of the techno music coming from below.
It was cool – very cool. But, I figured that I probably needed to be with friends to enjoy it the most, so I decided to go to the local place next door to have some genuine Hong Kong food for dinner. I ended up in a conversation with a bunch of Canton men lining up their empty beer bottles like they were part of a trophy cabinet. Their Chinese was much worse than mine, funnily enough, but we still managed a basic conversation. Older people from Hong Kong never would have been taught Mandarin at school and never would have needed to speak it, so it’s not surprising that their skills were pretty elementary.
Day 44 (8th of April, 2016) – Hong Kong, China
After a morning coffee at the hostel looking over the crowded and gridlocked Tsim Sha Tsuit streets below, I packed my bags and checked out of the lodge. Upon saying a quick goodbye to everyone who I had befriended, I realised that other backpackers were professionals at making non-committing friendships due to the high turnover rate of travellers. In some ways that’s a nice thing. It makes you realise that your friendship is more tied to a common place than it is to your actual relationship, and after all, that’s what travel is all about.
I set off through the subway to Causeway Bay to check into the Lanson Place Hotel where I’m staying with the family. I was told to return at 2pm and was allowed to leave my luggage with the concierge.
The first thing I noticed about Causeway Bay other than the stumbling groups of 7’s fans was the sheer density of Westerners, even ones who seemingly weren’t there for the rugby. Outside the train station I was able to count more Western faces than Chinese.
To wind down the hours until I was able to check in, I followed the map of a walking track through some tourist spots near Admiralty on a map which I picked up at the hostel. Walking out of Admiralty Station through Pacific Place, I realised that this was the location of the hotel which our family originally stayed at in 2009 – the Island Shangri-La. A flood of memories washed over me, and I had to sit and just recall the feeling of awe I had as a much younger boy watching the hordes of businesspeople moving through the complex. I haven’t seen a shopping mall so luxurious.
I approached the Caviar House and pointed at the AU$27,000 tin and asked, “Could I have a taste-test?”
I was expecting to be handed a little plastic spoon to figure out my favourite caviar, but the bewildered expression indicated that I was in fact not allowed.
I walked through Pacific Place onto Hong Kong Park, which I find to be quite beautiful. It’s distinctly Asian, thankfully, and isn’t a copy of your typical Central/Hyde Park.
Winding my way through the gardens, I stumbled across some incredibly sites. Truly the perfect balance between modern globalisation and a more cultured natural scene. It’s very relaxing (that is, if you can block out the deafening traffic noises).
I made my way to the Flagstaff Museum of Tea Ware and stopped to read my book at a Mahjong table just outside.
In the museum, I ran into one of the backpackers from back at the lodge. The museum was fairly interesting, but I’d much rather spend my time finding hidden corners of streets in the city, so I quickly moved on.
I took a stroll through the bird aviary in Hong Kong park, which I have vivid memories of visiting when I was younger.
Following Hong Kong Park, I took a walk up to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens. This wasn’t as exciting as Hong Kong Park, but it was fascinating to watch school excursion groups where young boys were mimicking Kung Fu moves to each other in the same way as Australian kids would pretend to be their favourite rugby player.
I decided to return to Causeway Bay to check into the hotel for a long awaited shower, so I made my way back to Central past the Hong Kong Government Offices, St John’s Cathedral and the Rugby 7’s Central.
Checking into the hotel room was a huge relief. After having to survive on a 3cm mattress, being able to even just sit on my bed was absolutely overwhelming. I’ve even been given a pillow menu, which I think is atrociously over the top, but I’ll be sure to try out every option.
I couldn’t help but audibly cheer at the quality of the shower head too, which was considerably better than my low-pressure alternative in Xuzhou. Unlike Kramer, Jerry and Newman from Seinfeld, I’m yet to find any sort of underground high-flow shower head dealer on the Xuzhou streets.
After rejuvenating in the room, I decided that I could squeeze in one more outing before the family arrived. I jumped on a train from Causeway Bay to Wan Chai to check out the world-renowned Lockhart Road bar street. What I found there was an Asian Kings Cross which boasted a high concentration of 7’s fan bars and srip clubs.
Elsewhere in Wan Chai, I stumbled across the “Wan Chai Computer Centre”, which contained two floors of all the electronics markets you could ever want. I tested out plenty of Virtual Reality goggles and a pair of AU$2500 Sennheiser HD800 headphones (something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time).
On the way back to the train station, I also wandered through some of the narrower streets. At one point, I came across this incredible view of Hong Kong’s iconic green mountains nestled up high behind the stacked appartments.
The reality was, though, that I was just trying to wind down time before I could return to the hotel and minimise the agonising wait to see everyone. More time was used up dodging my way through the congested stations.
When I eventually got back to the hotel, I ended up finishing most of a book in the lobby while I waited for everyone to arrive from the delayed flight and bad traffic.
I have never been more relieved to see Mum, Dad, Bianca, Annie and Aimee. It was a sort of joy that I have never, ever experienced. I had been thinking about this moment from the second I arrived at my dorm in Xuzhou. It lived up to be the moment of ecstasy which I had been dreaming of. I wish I had a photo to show.
After a very brief stint settling down in the hotel, we all boarded the subway to go to dinner at ‘Spring Deer’ in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was a very authentic dining experience hidden on the upper floor of a not-so-flash building in the East TST area.
Following the dinner, we headed to Mongkok to make the most of our time and have a quick stroll through the markets and shoe shops. I derive far greater joy from travel when I get to experience it with other people, even if it isn’t my first time having the experience. Gauging other peoples’ reactions to new concepts and places is what makes travel such an effective bonding experience.
Day 45 (9th of April, 2016) – Hong Kong, China
The morning started with a hotel breakfast together as a group. It was the first continental breakfast I have eaten for some time, especially since my cereal supply ran out in Xuzhou. To be honest, I’ve started to much prefer Chinese breakfast. I think the standard breakfast routine of cereal, toast, bacon or eggs gets a bit monotonous. The Chinese have so many more flavours in their morning meal, and I was quickly jumping to the Asian options at the hotel.
After breakfast, Aimee and I headed to see the main sights of Hong Kong while Dad did some work and the girls went shopping in Sham Shui Po. I brought Aimee to the highlights of my trip so far and skipped the bits which I thought weren’t worth going to. We ended up at Admiralty and headed through to Hong Kong Park, the Tea Museum and the aviary before ending our walk at the Peak Tram. Whilst it’s a bit of a tourist haunt, I thought that getting a glimpse of the view from the Peak was a must-do while in the Kong.
The funicular journey up the mountain was unbelievable in how steep it was. It was even more amazing that there were actually stations part way up the mountain.
After eventually reaching the Peak, Aimee noted very rightly that it is only in Hong Kong that you would find a fully stocked shopping mall at the peak of a mountain.
The view, whilst foggy, was probably the best we could get on this trip considering the weather forecast. It was still an incredible experience to see the fog roll in over the grand city.
Luckily the people of Hong Kong had it sorted, though, by offering a photoshop service on the observation deck to remove all of the fog from your photo.
It was no doubt an incredibly surreal experience to be standing with Aim at the highest point in Hong Kong after only dreaming of the possibility just months ago.
After returning down to the bottom of the tram line near Hong Kong Park, we wandered through the Lan Kwai Fong bar street in Central on the way to the Rugby 7’s. After just a brief visit to the street, it becomes exceedingly obvious as to why Jamie Briggs’ infamous night out was so controversial. This place is seedy.
I’d rather stick to the more authentic Hong Kong way of having a drink. Typically, groups of locals will buy their drinks from a 7/11 and sit on the shop’s porch, winding away the hours of the night bantering out the front.
7/11 don’t have a bad selection either.
Following the outing, Aimee and I raced through the metro to get to Hong Kong Stadium in order to catch most of the 2nd day of rugby. We settled into our seats in time to watch plenty of highlight games, including Australia’s shock loss to the USA. Before fleeing to the South Stand to be at home with her fellow revellers, Aimee even turned to me and professed her love for “boys, booze and big hits”.
The stadium is a highlight itself with it’s picturesque hilly surroundings. One side of the stadium is carved into the mountain’s rock.
Our party ended up with two spare tickets, and so I was given the privilege of selling them to the scalpers outside the stadium. I excitedly left to begin what became a 45 minute struggle for a good price. The sell was hard – the day was well over half complete, and there were only a few big matches left to watch. The first offer I received was HK$400 for the two. After a bit of argument and refusing to name any number myself, I began trying to rope in a few competing scalpers to the same discussion. Eventually, after much negotiation and exchanging of personal insults, we settled on a price of HK$1400. Upon receiving the tickets, the winning bidder took one look at them and realised that they had been gifted by a corporate group. He quickly snapped “Bloody Aussie. You got them for free, you cheeky f*cker”. Alas, I walked away a happy man.
We all met up for the evening’s dinner in the city, at which point I found out that Mum, Bianca and Annie had of course ended up in Disneyland for much of the day. Dinner was had in Soho. It was an Argentinian steakhouse, so I had my first steak since leaving Australia. The waiter was a proud Argentinian himself. In hilarious fashion, he would refuse to continue the order unless we took no more than a 5 second pause when saying what we wanted. It was only after returning about five times that we got through the whole tables’ order.
Part way through dinner, an elderly man dressed Elvis entered the restaurant and walked directly to our table. As a matter of fact, his costume made him far more alike E.T. I’m still yet to work out exactly why he came to our table, but he simply circled the venue and then left. He may have wanted money to play a song, but it was undoubtedly one of the creepier experiences I’ve had in this city. He (or ‘it’) will definitely be a character in my nightmares.
Day 46 (10th of April, 2016) – Hong Kong, China
This morning began in the same way with me slurping my rice congee while the rest of the travel group stuck to their Western staple breakfasts. We got off to an early start, and I went with all of the girls to Tung Chong near the airport to go factory outlet shopping. I’ve been told that everything we bought is current season in Australia but last season over here, so I think I did well with my purchases.
Afterwards, I went with Aimee to properly explore Hong Kong Island. I thought that this shop which we passed had a particularly funny name.
It wasn’t long after exploring some South Korean trends in the shops that Aimee began to feel a bit off, so we returned to the hotel to rest it off.
After deciding that we felt well enough to go out again, it didn’t take a very long adventure to the International Financial Centre buildings before Aimee was once again feeling down in the dumps. We returned to the hotel where the inevitable Asian stomach bug finally showed itself. The scenes were reminiscent of the whole family’s hospitalisation in Shanghai in 2009, but luckily not quite as severe. I think it’s the nature of this continent that you’re bound to get horribly sick early in your visit. But, I think that you slowly start to build an immunity which prevents you from being as susceptible to sickness on future trips. I don’t think it’s just chance that I haven’t been sick this whole trip! I shouldn’t speak too soon though…
Offering Aimee some of my green waffle definitely didn’t help keep down her lunch.
As the rest of the family headed to the ‘Hutong’ restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui to overlooking the cityscape of the Island, poor Aimee battled through cups of Hydralite to end up feeling better by the end of the night. Hopefully it passes quickly! I know it did for the rest of us.
Tomorrow we are off to Shanghai, and then onto Xuzhou. This week is going far too quickly. My greatest fear, as it always has been on this trip, is Saturday evening when the family leave. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it very easily. It’s difficult to comprehend just how lonely it can get in Xuzhou. Too often memories will flash back to dinners with friends where I’m the only English speaker in the corner while the rest babble on in their common language along the rest of the table. I need to keep on reminding myself why this trip is so beneficial not only for my language, but also for my character.
More importantly though, I’m trying hard to focus on enjoying the ‘now’ rather than losing sleep over an inevitable future. Considering I’m going to miss these days so much, I shouldn’t taint them by spending them worrying.
Until next time,