Hello, all you listeners! I haven’t written on this thing ever since my life really started to pick up, so I guess that’s as good of an excuse as any to stop writing. As I just recently unpacked my suitcase that still smells of dumplings and the Chinese (they are very unique in their odor), I thought it was high time that I begin to pen down my adventures and I might as well share it with those who have an interest in hearing about the Far East. Each post will cover a day in order to prevent my brain from exploding from trying to furiously type out one of the most amazing adventures I have had to date! So here begins the tales of a very naive and untraveled American girl who finds herself in one of the most foreign lands she could ever possibly experience…
Day 1. The flight that stole my April 27th.
This might sound completely uninteresting, but I beg to differ. It’s where it all starts for me. You cannot possibly begin to understand the magic of an adventure if you don’t know the feelings leading up to it! I found myself in a strange sort of Limbo in more ways than one. I no longer was living anywhere. I didn’t have a job, wasn’t a student, and (still) unsure of which friends I had just said my last goodbye to, provided I go on a mission as I have planned. While many of these things are still true, it’s a bizarre feeling to have no adjustment time and just be dumped into an airport. Perhaps missionaries can relate. I wouldn’t know…yet.
I have never felt so young and innocent in my little life. Everything fascinated me. I was staring at everyone as much as that Mexican baby was staring at me. I walked in a daze through the Tokyo airport, giggled when I realized that all the currency was given in yen, and delighted when everyone was bowing their heads as they said “hello” and “goodbye” While I had the whole row to myself on the flight to Tokyo (pretty sweet gig, really), I sat next to a man of unidentifiable nationality on my flight to Beijing. He didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t speak a word of whatever language he spoke (I suspect it was a dialect of Mandarin), but we managed to get along splendidly. We were both immensely amused by the other’s complete naivety with other cultures and found ourselves laughing at our pathetic attempts to communicate. We both couldn’t take our eyes off of the glittering sprawl of Beijing (lights as far as the eye could see: in an airplane) as we flew in, 10:30 pm on a day I had only briefly lived. The change in time zones was jarring and somehow heightened the excitement of everything.
The moment I stepped off the plane, everything felt different. I don’t think I was honestly expecting that. Nobody spoke English although they had learned where to point for ignorant people such as myself. The first person I saw when I stepped into the terminal was a man who looked exactly like Chairman Mao, bald and in green, which I thought ironic as that is one of the only things I know about the People’s Republic of China. I walked hesitantly through the silent airport and finally found my dear friend Mari and her mother waiting for me.
I stepped into the giant van with no seat belts, and felt the jarring sensation that became second nature very quickly as I grew accustomed to the driving in Beijing that I’m not sure even Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious would be prepared for. The constant honking became a lullaby as the days passed on, but I was deliciously conscious of the smells, noises, and lights flashing past as we sped on to their home.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of the rest of that night because I am almost positive I collapsed in that bunk bed, feeling happy as a clam, if clams are really all that happy.
There. I have said my piece and am ready to continue on to what you are more excited to see.