The hand of my heavenly Pappa is on me in this trip, and I know that from the get-go. On Wednesday as I departed, I went to buy a coffee and snack for my first flight, and the lovely woman in front of me (Danna), offered to get mine :). It may seem like a small gesture, but for my first meal to be covered, that meant a gift to me… And then in SFO on my layover, I had a most amazing conversation with three generations of ladies going back to Vietnam. Tina is the grandmother, and she fled the country 33 years ago on a 20 foot bamboo boat. She is going back with her daughter Kim and granddaughter Megan. I was touched by the story of her family’s survival, and the journey it is to go back and revisit these places. While we were in line, they bought me a soda (more favor).
The beauty and connectedness of people is so present to me, especially when travelling. The fact that I may not speak someone’s language, but we can still communicate is such a blessing…. On my team’s trip to Haiti 12/26-31, we were able to connect with adults and children despite our poor creole language skills. On the flight to Beijing, I was fortunate to sit next to a kind Beijing gal (coming home from UCSF), and she helped write out some of the Chinese addresses I needed to have with me…
I had ‘Mr. Bean’ moment as I arrived on Thursday and was making my way to the hostel. Thankfully, subways are pretty pretty much the same anywhere you go–but here in Beijing, one has to swipe your ticket on the way out. I was really proud of myself for making it to the destination, and then I see everyone else swiping. I am searching all of my pockets, without avail–and then I start to wonder what happens if I can’t find it? Just in time I locate it :). I can just imagine the lucky people watching me on the security camera, though!! Then, heading down the alley to my hostel, I reach for my headlamp (essential for all travellers), and discover I didn’t replace the batteries (I charged them when home)! Then before I even could consider a worry, I see the lights of my place, yay!!
Friday 1/5 I made some wonderful new friends… I had a chance to visit with Susan (my couchsurfing connection here), and a couple of folks from the UK during the morning in Ritan Park. We played a traditional game (like hackysack with a birdie), folk danced, and watched those doing tai chi. This was a personal and genuine way to start my connection to this city. Suasan then brought me home for tea (and spicy peanuts) and to get my transport to Chengdu confirmed. I then headed out to the Summer palace, where i climbed up and down, viewed the splendor of sch artistic pieces as the long corrider, and the temples, and watched families play on the ice of Kunming Lake. i enjoyed the exercise, and the history, and the fact that there are really few people touring here at this time of year. Afterward, i enjoyed a quick coffee (ah, Starbcks), and then some noodles and beef before hitting the hay.