Sunday, May 21, 2006

On Leaving China

Today is my last day in China until I return to Beijing in about two months to fly back to London. It is completely difficult to fathom that I have been here as long as I have been and in a way, it seems like I have been here forever. Of course, it seemed like I had been here forever after a week. So...maybe traveling can do that to you. My concept of time or even what day of the week it is is totally out of wack.

I remember when I first arrived in China...feeling ill from turbulence and straining my back with a heavy bag filled with cameras and equipment, the taxi drive into Beijing from the airport was probably the worst entrance into a destination I have ever experienced. The city pollution and the ugly tall buildings made the place look quite dismal. Of course, after I was feeling better and we went to see some of the requisite tourist spots and I got a little more used to being in China, Beijing seemed cool enough.

And now, after traveling across a good part of the country, China seems a lot more normal to me. Even though...the longer you stay here the more you come to understand how little you know about the place, the culture, the people (or so I've been told by ex-pats who live here.) I don't claim to know much of anything, but I do feel really comfortable in this country. And so maybe it is that it seems quite normal to me that I am in China.

About mid-way through my six-month adventure, I can't say that I have had any major ephiphanies or feel like my life has totally changed. Well, and I never expected that, either. (And if that happened, I might be a bit suspicious.) But, I do feel as though little, subtle things have already started to seep in. Even though I had my bout of homesickness and a few hard days here and there, I have never regretted leaving San Francisco or coming to China. I do wish I had visited a few locations here that I won't get to on this trip. But...I think it's always good to leave a few places for the next time, should there be one.

In a way, I am sad to leave, but I am ready to move on. And I am so excited about going to Mongolia, that I think I'll reserve my sadness for when I am finally saying "zaijian" to China in August when I board that plane to London.

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