Monday, September 3, 2007

4 September 2007: Beijing

Happy Labor Day, folks (not that we observe that here in Asia)! And greetings from Beijing, China!

Every now and then, I’m awed that I am here: “I can’t believe I’m in China!” But at the same time, it’s just another part of the world with buildings and cars and people doing their life thing. Beijing is enormous, polluted, and congested, but it’s Autumn here, and the weather is beautiful. Sunny, blue-skied days and warm nights just make me happy!

I’ve been reunited with my best friend (aka Sister) Julie for one more week. Even her mom looks at us and tells us we’re like sisters. My mom tells us that too. You know when your own mothers think you’re sisters, there must be some essential sister vibe and likeness between us! This summer together has definitely been a treat, a treasure. I’m staying with her and her parents at their lovely flat; the accommodations and lifestyle are quite different from what I’d grown accustomed to over the past few weeks. Here we have a cook (and therefore home-cooked meals, YEAH!), a driver, a lift, wood floors, marbled counters, stone-walled showers, a view from the 23rd floor, and oh- SPACE!

It’s 7a, and my sleep schedule is mussed, but the beauty of being on holiday is that it doesn’t much matter. I’d been staying up late and waking up later in Hong Kong, but I ended up going full circle one night, so when I arrived here, I started sleeping early and waking early. I’m looking out our huge bedroom window, and can see that the sun is already shining full force, bringing light to the thick layer of smog coating the buildings in the distance. Yikes, and ew. Apparently the traffic and pollution are worse here than in LA, though I haven’t checked official numbers, and apparently even if I did, it wouldn’t be accurate because the numbers are manipulated.

My entire body is throbbing right now because I climbed the Great Wall yesterday, followed by a 90-minute ass-kicking, energy-sucking, sweat-mongering Bikram yoga class. Ok, so there was also a full-body massage thrown in there, but I still had an exhausting day! The Great Wall was pretty amazing. Julie and I got up at 6a because we wanted to get there before the heat and crowds settled in. We spent a couple hours on the Wall and only saw 2 other people during that entire time. Unbelievable…we had the Wall to our silly selves! As we were on our way out, the crowds started coming in, and I understood how special it was that we were able to have quiet, personal, quality-time without other people.

Not that I don’t like other people, but you know the effect that busloads of tourists have on your own tourist-experience!

Likely the most massive thing I’ve ever seen, and snaking its way through equally massive mountains and land, I kept thinking about how you could see the Wall from space. Talk about perspective on just how little we are in the scheme of the world.

Speaking of the world, it looks like I’m going to be on this side of it for awhile longer. I’m absolutely in love. I spent 5 weeks in Hong Kong and will spend the next month traveling China, Korea, and hopefully Japan, and will return to Hong Kong thereafter. I’ve realized it’s actually not just a big city of concrete and neon lights after all. My misaligned, limited, initial perspective has been thankfully corrected, mostly by the hours and hours I’ve spent on my friends’ boats: sunning on the deck, floating in the ocean, and climbing waterfalls. Comprised of 200+ islands, jungles, and harbours, coming upon the best weather of the year, and being the international travel hub of Asia, Hong Kong is now one of my favorite places in the world, and has unexpectedly begun to feel like home.

I am relishing in my somewhat-spontaneous, fully-intuitive decision to journey out here. It’s becoming another example that you simply cannot go wrong when you follow your heart. My dad inspired me to live that way when I was deciding what to do careerwise, searching for the balance between contributing to the world and contributing to my bank account. He said for me to follow my heart, and everything else, including money, would fall into place. I live by my heart, and I can tell you that it’s incredible what manifests.

So that’s your yogi homework for today: Follow your heart, in whatever capacity makes sense for you right now.

Xie xie (Thanks) for reading, and even better, for sending me emails with stories and pictures from home. I heart Asia, but I do miss you. xx

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