I wrote this post two weeks ago as I was sitting on the airplane on my way to China and feel like it’s a great way to kick off the coming posts about my whirlwind travels through Beijing, Yangshou, and Shanghai.
Groggy from the rude awakening blaring out of my alarm clock at 4:30am it was far too early to even bat around the term “awake.” No, it was pure instinct that kept me from endlessly hitting the snooze button this morning.
Instead, I grabbed my comfortable-but-not-a-hobo travel outfit I had carefully laid out last night and politely lit my way to the communal bathroom with my iPhone while I dodged the other Couchsurfers sprawled on mats in the large, open communal room. Within 15 minutes my bag was re-packed, teeth brushed, and I found myself standing at the door of my host’s house, the red brake-lights of my waiting taxi gleaming in stark contrast to the pitch black sky.
Uncaffeinated and bleary eyed, I had managed to avoid all complex thought throughout the rote morning tasks of a travel day.
Then it hit me all at once.
I’m going to China! Right now.
Cue an impromptu happy dance on the sidewalk because suddenly the adrenaline of actually being back in the travel saddle hit me.
It’s been ages since I felt this way. Coming back to Southeast Asia was a different kind of excitment; there’s a familiarity in Thailand and different (arguably fewer) challenges in my temporary expat lifestyle. I still consider myself traveling because I’m not living in the US, but it’s “slow travel,” versus, well, travel.
But China. China is a whole new ballgame. A whole new culture.
And staring at those taxi lights snapped it all back into crystal clarity for me; now once again I feel the adventure and newness that caused spontaneous smiles and a bear hug good-bye to my traveling friend as I did the Charleston toward my waiting cab.
I have a new language to cobble together over the next two weeks, markets to explore, and there is Chinese food to be eaten!
Check back throughout the month as I sprinkle into the mix some stories from my travels through China.