Yesterday the group and I said goodbye to Taigu to travel to Beijing. After spending a full week in Taigu at prospect college it was quite difficult to say goodbye. I did not realize it until I left, but we had it really good there. We were developing friendships and beginning to recognize and come to know many different students just in time to say goodbye. I am grateful for the love and kindness I received at Taigu, a kind of love and kindness that feels non-existent in Beijing. While having to say goodbye to my new Irish friends yesterday was already terribly difficult, we then arrived in one of the biggest cities in the world as nothing more than tourists that people want to take advantage of. I spent my time I’m Beijing yesterday and today being harassed for money in two bars, two taxis that refuse to display their meter, and countless street corners. In fact, someone has already tried to sell me drugs, and another prostitutes.
I loved the part of this adventure that included making friendships and building my language comprehension along side other students, however, it is sad to see that end. I believe this is so in large part because this summer in China is my very last semester in college and leaving Taigu and entering the coldness of Beijing functioned as a metaphor for the feeling of isolation often experienced after finishing school. I have three full more days here, all chalk full of site-seeing before I head home on the 16th. While site-seeing is not my biggest interest, tomorrow will include 熊猫(pandas) and 长城 (the Great Wall) which are both quite unique experiences.
My WeChat account had about 8 friends before China and it now contains over 30 so I will hopefully maintain some strong relationships and Chinese language moving forward outside of school. I would even love to have any of them spend some time at my home if they come to the U.S. which I know a few are.
After four days in Xi’an the group took a high speed train to Taigu. Taigu is a much smaller, more rural town and this is where we are going to live at school in dorms once again just like the first week.
Today is actually day 4 or 5 in Taigu, however, this is my first post because there is no internet access for students in the dorms like there was in Chongqing. In fact, a lot of things are worst about this leg of the trip regarding the school. First, the basic lack of amenities such as internet, hot water, and access to basic spaces like the laundry room and kitchen are very jarring; this is especially so considering that the first school in Chongqing is the same school and all of these were provided.
Additionally, this school is hyper-conservative to a dangerous level. At 10:30 every single night, including weekends, every single dormatory door is locked with chains and padlocks. The argument on the school’s behalf is that they are protecting the students, though this couldn’t be farther from the truth. A fire, earthquake or similar emergency could easily kill hundreds of students as they claw to escape their “safe” prison.
Aside from the pollution, dangerous living conditions and oppressively conservative culture here the classes and tours have been lacking much interest as well, though there are jems. The tours in Xi’an were full of religious sites which were beautiful, even if heartbreaking to exit through a gift shop just after praying at am ancient site. Taigu’s most recent trip with to an ancient walked City full of high watch towers and maze like court yards. Unfortunately, even though this is a respected historical site and tourist attraction the location still manages the be extremely polluted and dirty. The smell of feses is around every corner and from the highest tower one can not see more than a couple miles away. To top of the experience we discovered a young dog in the middle of a bustling courtyard as it convulsed and failed to stand after countless attempts. Hundreds of people a minute passed this animal and an equal number of people averted their eyes. The Americans wanted to do anything from fairing together cash for getting it a vet or even just to put the animal down but we were told to walk away and forget about it.
On the bright side, we saw a beautiful interactive play that same day. People move from one giant space to another as a story unfolded literally all around us about soldiers forced to leave their wives for war and the decades to follow. While it would have been nice to understand more than a few words that are spoken, the emotion was powerful enough to cut through the language barrier, bringing back to mind my unforgettable time with the Chongqing monk.
Today is a new day, our first class just ended and I am sitting in a coffee shop enjoying the most alone time I have experienced in weeks. Tonight there will be a party thrown by the school in honor of the graduates and foreign guests. Im sure it will be a lovely experience.
The four Irish students will not continue the journey into Beijing after this final school portion is completed. While I have been improving my Chinese and enjoying the gratitude check, my Irish friends have been great fun and I will be sad to see them go. Fortunately, they have invited my American friend and I to visit this summer and I fully intend on capitalizing on that offer!
Time for lunch which means delicious veggie steamed buns that cost pennies on the dollar :p 再见朋友。
I am nine days into my trip to China and it has provided me with a diverse collection of experiences and emotions. Chongqing, the first portion of my trip, ended in an immensely powerful way. While the entire week I was overwhelmed with gratitude and feelings of over-privilege due to the quality of dorm life, I ended my time there with the single most powerful experience of my entire life! We visited a buddist Temple atop a mountain and I was graded with the presence of the head monk. He approached me and gave me a hug, told me multiple times that I was a man of great heart, expressed a deep connection he felt to me that went beyond language, and acknowledged blocks in my chi that are directly related to physical ailments in my life. At this point I was in tears once again hugging this beautiful man, but that was not everything; he then gave me a simple buddist pendent and asked me to stay at the temple with all the monks! The monk continued on to explain to my teacher who was translating, that the invitation is open and that I am always welcome to come and live there with the monks, religion aside, to heal myself. This was the most inspirational single moment of my life and I spent the next two days contemplating if I should abondon the trip all together to stay at the temple or continue on as planned.
Eventually, I made the decision that I have the power to heal myself and that an open invitation will grant me plenty of time to work out another journey directly focused on spirituality. Moving forward, the group left Chongqing via an overnight train and made our way to Xi’an. The journey was exhausting, littered with museum visits that were impossible to appreciate as they were simply biding time while all we all need was a shower and to brush our teeth. Finally the group arrived in our five star hotel (comparable to an American three star) with a huge sign of relief. With fresh showers, Western toilets, privacy and air conditioning it’s safe to say the overall mood was greatly lifted. The next day was followed by a lovely trip to Muslim street and a visit to a beautiful mosque. Later on, some of the group went our to a Chinese club to dance. While it is quite conflicting sitting an a bouncing club after coming so close to residing in a buddist Temple focusing on self healing, I suppose this is the plight of modern spirituality.
Overall thus far, I love the food and style that I am experiencing here like nothing before. The food is spicy and delicious, and the cloths are unique and inexpensive. However, my patience for the Chinese people’s ignorance and the pollution is waning. Countless men have grabbed me to take pictures, and I feel eyes all over me at all times. As for the pollution, i feel as though I haven’t really seen the stars, sky, moon, or sun clearly since I have been here.
As I move ahead I look forward to all the new experiences. Time to go, my schedule is so packed I struggle to get these entries completed in a timely manner, my apologies.
I have been in China for almost for days; I apologise for not posting sooner, however, the days move so fast and the internet moves so slow!
第一个日：By the first full day I had already met my five Chinese roommates and confronted the whole bathroom/shower situation (I’ll go into more detail in the comments of anyone really wants). 我的一个roomate的名字叫 morning. I guess he was born in the morning so he just uses that as his English name x). Day one he treated me to beef noodles for breakfast and showed me all around his campus.
第二个日：By the second full day I was already feeling much more comfortable. I have been really surprised that I have not been very homesick, my body is handling the crazy good we’ll, and I’m not have personal space (me time) problems all like I anticipated. That night all the American and Irish students along side a few teachers went out for hot pot! This is a style of meal when there is spiced boiling oil I’m the center of the table and everyone dips all sorts of raw food into it, 非诚好吃！
I have to go to class now, my schedule and the sluggish internet makes it hard to find time to write very much at a time. I will go into depth about today and my overall feelings about the trip thus far as soon as possible!
今天我在加拿大，with two flights down I’m hours away from my last, long, flight to China. My body has been pretty good with all the sitting and flying so far which I’m really happy about. I got to Vancouver at 1am this morning and spent the night laying across some chairs with my backpack for a pillow and my suitcase tied to my wrist x).
So far, I have concluded that Canada is a wonderful place and I need to come back! The money is every color of the rainbow and displays 很多animals, 加拿大人 have been so kind to me, the businesses I have encountered have been much more gracious than most American ones, and Vancouver is a breathtaking sight to see when the sun rises behind the snowcapped mountains. Moral of the story, I’m coming back! Now, time to hop on a plane and make my way to my destination, 北京，中国！
PS. I got a window seat for the long flight 🙂
As the title implies, today I am leaving for Canada followed by 2 layovers, one for 12 hours, a 10 hour flight to China, one more national flight to Chongqing and finally an hour drive to campus. It’s going to be quite the exhaustive multi-day commute, especially for a farmboy’s first time leaving the country! Yet, I am most concerned about all the sitting and the toll it may take on my back and neck. I have a neck pillow, some pain meds, and AirCanada offers some free spirits so we’ll see how it goes!
Next time we meet I’ll be in China! 再见！
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