Can I go to Colombo now? I've wanted to land there for a while now. I guess I will have to settle returning to Thailand, twice in six months. I'm a lucky gal.
I don't know if its because I've just
come from Korea, but Shanghai folk (lemon in tea??! and in a bag? Who
are these people??!) seem to be different from Beijingers. There's a
(sh...) in their xie xie and they eat a little quieter. And I saw a
big line of people, hundreds of bodies perhaps, passing through Domestic, while the line for International was about 3 (me and two others). Just one of the reasons why I left China.
But then I see smiling faces and workers tans sharing a meal together
and I count myself lucky to have been to the country in the first
On today: I got a lot of looks and a
lot of praise for carrying my backpack around town and to the airport
on the subway. I left the L-Zone cafe in Kyungsung after a great
morning of toast, instant coffee, and swapping stories with fellow
travellers. I'll take instant coffee anyday if it comes with conversations with fellow travellers. It was like being in Burma again, except I was back in my old home away from home at a totally new hostel. I took the subway to Busan Station and picked up some baking chocolate (for Christmas baking
time with little Thai kids, of course!) and a few Korean souvenirs
for the road, and headed to the airport before sunset, smelling my
last of this season's fresh fall air. Autumn passed me by in smoggy
Beijing and the land of Seoul, as I wandered around two of the
biggest cities in Asia, trying to make a buck, get back on my feet,
and reconnect with the Asian life I felt like I'd left too soon. It
was December 1st, and I was headed back to South East Asia
for a few weeks. Now I'm in Bangkok, on one of the most random
decisions I've ever made. I'll be back to Shanghai and then back home
to Busan and it will be winter, and I will be almost 31. I always say
that there's such a lot of world to see, but sometimes I like to pop
my head into some recognizable spots in this crazy world, just to
check in on the many places I've gotten the privilege to call home.
I've done it many times; returned to the little town in China where I
once lived and found a sense of independence in myself that I didn't
know existed. I've done it with Busan. A few times, really. And
whenever I'm drinking rum and cokes and Bob Marley plays on the
radio, I think about returning to Costa Rica. That trip unfortunately
hasn't happened yet, but the Americas will call me back when we're
ready, I'm sure.
When my suitcase and me first hit the
Beijing streets back in August, a taxi driver gave me a thumbs up as
he passed by.
I thought of the Australian business
man I met once on an L.A bus. I was jet-lagged after 7 months in Asia and was Vancouver bound to see an old friend. I told this stranger my travelling life story in a matter of five minutes before he got off the bus, gave me a thumbs up and told me to, “keep rocking”. Sometimes when I'm unsure of myself, one of
the only things that can help me focus on the journey ahead is
thinking of the kind words I've gotten from strangers or messages
from old friends, encouraging my journey, my writing and my
lifestyle. Thanks for helping a gal out, peeps.
So souvenirs and chocolate in hand, on my way to Gimhae airport, I passed this Korean man as I walked towards the subway and my big backpack on my back. He didn't know how to catch my
attention so he just started banging his hands together until I
looked over at him. He gave me a thumbs up and a big smile. I smiled back and bowed
“cum sa hammida!” Then on my subway transfer between Lines 1 and
2, a few Ajoshis and Ajummas asked me what I was doing. They offered
me their seats. Some just stared. One Ajoshi knocked on my backpack,
trying to figure out what mysteries laid (lay?) inside (a few
fleeces, pants, and underwear, really. I hope I packed my
toothbrush). I hopped onto what I'm sure was my 10th or
11th flight in six months; all on a budget, all with
little or no plans. (I just counted, it's 12).
At the airport I notice signs of the Global Village: Japanese,
Koreans and Canadians talking and learning from each other all on a
Koreans ordering food in English to Chinese waiters at the Shanghai airport. French and Aussie travellers
talking with me in English. I think of the Shanghai hostel I once stayed at for a week and how
there was the English side and the quiet, absorbed in their computer
stuff Chinese speaking side. The Chinese girl, Spanish consulate
worker, Egyptian engineer and me all sharing stories. The Egyptian
guy gave me a proxy server, talked of Yangshuo and taught me “good
night” in Chinese. A Toronto born Chinese guy and a few local girls
took me out for Shanghai muslim hand rolled noodle soup. Some of the
convo was in chinese and some in english. Many people were impressed
by our travels. The Toronto guy didn't really know where he was going
in life, but really, neither did I.
This world is pretty great, sometimes.
I teach English but I love learning
languages and cultures (I just wish I was better at it) but I really
think there's something beautiful when the world has one common
language. Having one common anything with people who would have been
complete strangers, even aliens, a century before makes me think that
this century can be a great one. Let's work together to make it so.
People log onto their smart phones and
check in and confirm hotel booking and spend so much time doing
nonsense whereas my way is: Can I make it to the airport by subway? Which way is the cheapest? Will I have somewhere to sleep tonight? Are my bags in a safe spot? I
haven't had a phone for over a month now and it's taking a toll on
me. I realize how much it's an essential. I can survive out here
without one because I don't have many friends, my friends become the
ones who are right in front of me. I couldn't survive in suburban
canada without one. Not even a car. That's one of the (main) reasons
why I left. I hate being tied down to diesel fuel. We are better than
Enough is enough. I'm back in South
East Asia. Maybe I'll get to ride a motorbike myself, this time.