It is hard to believe that only a few weeks have gone by since my return from Asia; I am so completely into the swing of things at home in the Boston area. It is ALMOST as if I never left. I can just barely “touch” China (where I lived and travelled from September 2013 until the end of March 2014) and Vietnam and Cambodia (where I travelled afterwards). They are elusive memories. And yet, profoundly, as I was out and about yesterday a large group of Chinese walked past me. Suddenly, a familiar feeling marked me and tied me to my time in China – I had a pleasantly warm and physical sensation throughout my body. My brain reminded me that I did, in fact, have particular experiences at particular times.
I left China feeling indifferent to the place, or so I thought. Now, I find that I miss it. I never thought I would and yet I do… I cannot figure out what it is that I miss; it is completely intangible – especially since while I was there I had mixed feelings about the country itself. But I realise there is something intangible about life there that I wish I could put my finger on. No matter. China did get under my skin and into my heart. I may not recall all of it, and certainly not necessarily on demand, but my past makes me who I am, now. The reality is, I truly was there.
Below is a small sampling of the photographs I took during my final three weeks in China: Shaxi, Dali, Fujian Province.
Shaxi, Yunnan Province China:
Dali, Yunnan Province, China:
Fujian Province, China:
No visitor to China can, I believe, be indifferent to the experiences one undergoes there. China to me is much about managing one’s expectations, and allow oneself to passively taking in all that is happening around oneself there and give up the weird idea of always wanting to be in control. Some people cannot handle that, and they usually come away from a trip to China irritated to various degrees.
Being in China, I would say, somehow amplifies ones feelings. On some rare bad days, when down with an upset stomach and lack of appetite, say, one feels more miserable than elsewhere. Gutter oil everywhere! On good days, however, one wants to embrace all those millions of people.
No, it is not possible to point one’s finger at anything specific that makes China a place one wants to get back to again and again. If only the visa regulations were a little more welcoming.
The reception lady of the hostel here in Hong Kong summed things up nicely: I lamented about how difficult it is these days to get a long stay Chinese visa, and that I might spend more time in Taiwan instead, things immigration being much more lenient there. True, she said, but China, that is what is intriguing, and mysterious. Cathay – forever beckoning those that have set their eyes on her!
yes! i learned that what i thought was indifference was, in fact, a quiet embracing of the people and country (and therefore not much thought given to it — which is a shame). certainly there was irritation (particularly the smoking, pollution, perception of lack of respect for the past while embracing it at the same time), and the daily spitting on the street. i just never realised this. it is good to hear that i am not the only one who cannot put her finger on it. i’ve been to china twice now and want to return again… so yes, it does seem i am the one who has not let the irritations bother me and i want to get back to this wonderful and odd place with wonderful people, a complex and long history, and a magnificent landscape (not to mention the terrific food!!!). thank you for your thoughtful comment.
i agree that the government is not making it easy for us. so… i have to find a way that will allow me an entry into the country. perhaps a photography show is the way to go! and i am working on it.
i hear taiwan is terrific and is the “best of china.” but one of the things i like about china is its complexity of character. it is what makes you want to delve deeper and deeper into the culture.