Title Explanation - we are the wide eyes as called by Asian school boys
Okay, so here’s the post that people have been asking for regarding literally what on this earth I’ve been doing for the past week and a half. Basically last Sunday till the present time was taken and just ram and jam packed full. Our plans and changes-of-plans quickly became moments that pass into memories full of sights, sounds, SMELLS, emotions, and many, many lessons for the milking. My words will fail miserably – most memories are meant to be cherished for the three of us alone – but I will use the English half of my almost degree to attempt to communicate the most meaningful to you.
To begin, Saturday June the ...5? You can picture me rushing out in the wee hours of the morning to catch my first train...realizing I had no pictures of Vivian’s apartment accept Manchhichi stuff...and beginning to scramble to capture this place that had become a strangely homey anchor/sanctuary that I will literally treasure as a weirdly sacred time the rest of my life. I left with mixed emotions as I turned my back for the last time on the little room where I learned so much more about myself - the good, the bad, and the ugly – and experienced moment to moment more than I could have dreamed or even thought to hope for. We will always struggle to do this fully, yes – but once again...witnessing what giving everything up for a greater calling has done, and realizing how little I get done on my own...has been an incredible self-realization that I hope for each and every one of you – regardless of your current life’s position. My time in HK on my own with God prepared me for what he is already piecing together for after that blessed month, and with the people I share this room. Once again, we’ve got some stuff up our sleeves...so stay tuned.
After arriving at 2 am in a hostel after a whirlwind day of scampering around southern China with my life on my back; waiting in multiple wrong lines with eyes dancing frantically for English; buying and selling train tickets; making seven new friends at various points who were each a God-send towards landing me in the bustling city of Chengdu in time to meet long awaited friends. After a month of making friends with strangers – the sight of a familiar Canadian face was exactly what was needed. I spent that final night alone (but really not so alone whatsoever, right?? :) ), and a refreshing morning emailing, writing, and msning back home. Heading to meet Jessica and Jules...I was both pumped and at peace with the anticipation of what would come, beginning in just a few hours at that time.
Jessica, Julia, and I finally saw each other white-face-to-white-face since our temporary goodbye in HK a few weeks previous. That night we were able to catch up and get excited. The next morning we arrived at the Chengdu Panda Reserve and Research Centre. Though one of the largest and most successful Breeding centres for Giant Pandas (and let’s not forget the Red Panda’s, girls!), they did not fall short of fulfilling their Chinese stereotypical cheese and poor (but amazingly hilarious) english translations...
I won’t bore you with the details, but we learned all about (with graphic video footage) the “dating” and “mating” process of the Panda’s, and the male Panda’s dangerous “sub-adult” phase when he experiences some highly “amorous” feelings. We also learned about “Panda Marriage,” and here’s the piece of wisdom that we were told to keep in mind, which I am now earnestly passing onto you – “a human, like a Panda, has the two most important phases in their lives; entering the examinations, and entering the bridal chamber.” I’m still trying to picture what kind of examinations are important to Panda’s, but in any case – we are similar in those two highly important respects.
I could actually go on and on about the film, (which was drowned by a perfectly fitting Enya soundtrack every so often, by the way)...BUT I’ll just let know that Julia and I were having a field day with my notebook just trying to get all the quotes down.
The roly-poly, actually very dumb animals were incredibly adorable, and were more pleasant and funny to watch than I realized – go see them one day!
\i’m going to skim over the unexpectedly wicked highlight of the trip that happened the next day, which consisted of landing in a goldmine local mall filled to the brim with MILLIONS of grammatically incorrect t-shirts. It was ridiculous heaven. But our camera’s were snapping and the notebook was made useful again...so I think that’s another blog entry altogether once combined with the other Chinese translations we’ve frequently stumbled across.
Pretty soon we were literally riding on top of the world...on the two-day train up the Himalaya’s to Lhasa, Tibet.
The simple, unglamorous train swept past sand dunes that drifted alongside crystal blue lakes which eventually rolled into smooth, calm, green hills that gradually became speckled with sheep, shepherd’s tents and colourful prayer flags (passing this while I was looking up and down from reading through Abraham’s story of promise – SUCH a wicked visual attachment to the story)...to eating our breakfast of dried foods to a view of tundra and then to the snow capped mountains which at first only teased us with glimpse of themselves, only to reveal their splendour beneath the setting sun, which we were running from one side of the train to the other to get the perfect view of as the train raced towards the sunset. Everyone on the train was dirty, the food wasn’t exactly the gourmet from before, but the community on the train was an experience in of itself as we got to know the couple of crazy kids in our car, and the ladies in our rooms, joking with us foreigners with a universal language of laughter.
The geography – I knew while I was witnessing it that I was taking it for granted but trying to grasp the greatness of it all is just too much for me to take in...it’s blowing my mind sometimes!!
Tibet, still lined with Chinese soldiers and armed gunmen who are keeping control of pretty much the happiest most peaceful people ever, was amazing. We were so worried about our guide (you have to have one in Tibet if you’re a foreigner), and what he’d (we too hastily assumed) be like....when we received the funniest, most genuine young guide trying to work hard and save up over this first year of her and her husband’s sweet marriage. They both ended up inviting us into their one room home and providing us with life-long cherished moments of actual emotional tears, historical laughter, and even toasts to Michael Jackson over home-cooking, right before dancing to Shakira in the light of a single desk lamp. We three Canadian girls will share that bonding memory for as long as our feeble memories will let us.
From Tibet, we flew from Lhasa to Chengdu, got delayed there while waiting to go to Beijing as all flights to Beijing were postponed till the following morning which would have meant we’d miss our non-refundable/transferable tickets to Tokyo would have been missed...only to not be discouraged when our airplane for some reason all of a sudden began boarding when none of the other planes were able to depart. More details to this story... but basically, it was wicked and we chilled and ate TONS of free noodles and watched the world cup with new Aussie friends. Then we boarded and transferred over to Japan, which I have kinda fallen in love with...and we are leaving tomorrow. I’ll come back.
I can’t get over how I never planned or hoped for any of this...and yet it’s all working out, detail by detail, moment by moment, day in and day out – in the most truly Awesome ways (and I capitalize that word for a reason). The three of us are seeing impeccable moments of precision and detail work out before our very eyes...and all we can do is smile and laugh.
Familiar eyes are watching us.
I will be without the blog for another week and a half...I’ll catch up in GREECE!!
Wish me luck...in the meantime, think of us on the boat for two days to Shanghai, then experiencing the Expo, and finally finishing off our month in Beijing and preparing to part ways....
Canada, dear, I miss you but we’re just not meant to be...yet.