Thank you for your encouragement in the comments for my post where I revealed I often use my heart more than my head. Today I would like to offer you 13 pieces of proof that following your dreams is the right decision. Without my dream I would have never been able to see these places with my own eyes. All during these last three years.
Beijing was the very first city in China I visited. I was getting very nervous the last few days before my move to China, but when I got in to the plane I was surprisingly calm. The reality of making my biggest dream come true hadn’t struck me yet, it was a space between my old life and my new adventure. During the two weeks I spent in Beijing, I remember saying to my self numerous times “I did it!”
In Chengdu I was staying at the excellent Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel and a Finnish friend gave me a call. It was quite loud in the hostel’s restaurant and I tried to hear what my friend was trying to say. She asked me if there was any other Finns in the hostel. I said in a very loud voice “What? Any Finns here? No, I don’t think so!” Right at that moment I saw a guy smile at me across the bar. I later found out he was a Finn waiting for a travel permit to go to Tibet.
I went to Foshan with two Finnish girls while we were all exchange students at Guangzhou University. That semester I spent most of my time with them and one day we decided to see what the neighbour looked like and took a bus to Foshan. During those three semesters at Guangzhou University I met many new friends, but when they went back home it was always the same story. It was hard to continue keeping touch. When you’re an expat living far away from home, you almost get used to meeting amazing people and then losing them the next year.
Guilin & Yangshuo
Guilin was the last stop before Guangzhou on my 2010 trip across the China. I had visited Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an and Chengdu already, by myself traveling alone. I kind of started to miss having some company when the 5th week of travels came along. I was seeing these amazing things, places I’d only seen in documentaries before, but I had no one to share my feelings with. I did love being independent and could decide to spend my traveling days as I wanted, but I had the need to share it with others. Later on this need transformed into this blog, I finally have all of you to share my travel photos with.
Haikou & Sanya
Trip to Hainan island was kind of decided in an afternoon. Me and my Finnish classmate (Guangzhou University) were disappointed with our Chinese courses and wanted a change. Early spring was a bit too cold to go to Shanghai so we decided to head to Hainan instead, the Hawaii of China. The trip was pure fun, no culture, no learning, nothing but having fun. After a few days I got sick off it and wanted to go back to Guangzhou. I needed more than beaches and Western restaurants with menus in Russian.
After an exhausting Autumn 2012 I met a guy. My Japanese friend had just broken up with his girlfriend and he needed many shoulders to cry on, or at least many drink to wash the feeling away. Among the few people he invited his Chinese friend and a Finnish friend too. This Finn happened to be in a Finnish Christmas party with me and invited me to tag along. So would I call it fate or coincidence that me and the Chinese guy hit it off? Anyway, pretty soon after, on our first trip together, my boyfriend took me on top of the Heng Mountain on my 25th birthday.
For me Hong Kong is expensive food, but also numerous interesting places to discover. After five or so trips, I still can find many new destinations to explore. I always tought it was a bit funny when expats say they go to Hong Kong in order to have a break from China. But then came last Dragon’s Boat Festival, the reality of living with Chinese parents hit my head and I wanted to escape for a few days to Hong Kong. In 2012 I never crossed the Chinese border, not even to Hong Kong or Macau, but now in 2013 I recognise that even me sometimes need a holiday from this “Living a Dream in China”.
As a former history major I of course had to visit this authentic ancient town in Shanxi province, but everything didn’t really go as planned. My train from Beijing arrived to Pingyao at 5AM, I luckily managed to find a vehicle to take me to my hostel. As I stepped out of the car and the drive drove away, I noticed me self on a small road inside the village wich was pitch black. It took a while to get my eyes used to the darkness, there was no one else outside. I started to have this feeling of “What on earth have I done!” on my head, but after knocking on the door for ten minutes the owner of the hostel woke up and let me in to sleep. The two days I spent in Pingyao I was freezing the whole time, it was much colder than in Beijing.
I went to Shanghai for a work gig and for some reason had lost my courage to explore places alone. For two days I worked during the day and spend evenings at my hotel reading a book. I knew no one in Shanghai and couldn’t get my self outside to explore. On the very last day I finally decided to find out what this Shanghai was all about. I went to People’s Park and was happy that I knew about The Tea Scam before hand and wasn’t fooled by the “art students”. I stumbled into the marriage market where Chinese parents help their children to find a suitable match. When an old Chinese man approached me with a smile I ran as fast as I could. I also visited the free Shanghai Museum which was great, walked along the Pund and waited more than one hour to get to the Pearl Tower. On my train trip back to Guangzhou I had a standing ticket, I had bought it the same morning, but after 15 minutes one gentleman gave me his seat and slept on the floor.
Where ever I go, I always need to find a piece of history. So that’s what I did when I headed to Shenzhen with my Finnish friend. She used to be an exchange student at Guangzhou University, but went back home and started a business. After two years I’m still her link to China, helping in buying products and interpreting when she visits. It’s inspiring to follow her journey to her own dream.
In Xi’an I realized the down sides of traveling alone. Having high fever when you’re alone in a hostel with only a squat toilet wasn’t that much fun. Luckily I had a few days of exploring before getting sick and I enjoyed walking around the city enter inside the ancient city walls. I already decided to travel with the aim to both explore and relax. I bought a book at a bookstore that had a nice collection of English books. Books were my company during late evening at the hostels and long train trips. When I had once again finished a book I left it, there wasn’t any space in my backpack, and started to read my Lonely Planet for the 100th time.
Xijiang, Leishan & Langde
Our trip to Guizhou was something I planned and my boyfriend followed along. Traveling together, including a 17 hour train trip, is a test to your relationship. We did exchange some angry words during those days, when waiting for hours for the bus to arrive or when almost starved while getting lost. On our last whole day in Guizhou we visited Langde and while resting on a bench inside a roofed bridge I had this strong feeling of satisfaction. “I had a dream, I made it true and now I’m here on an adventure with my boyfriend having the time of my life!” I knew I was on the right path to happiness.
Yangjiang & Yangxi
Ironically the two times I’ve visited this beach were both with my boyfriend, the beach stayed the same but the boyfriend didn’t. At first I had big hopes for my relationship with my now ex-boyfriend, but as the relationship went on I noticed my self getting less and less happy. I decided to choose me, my happiness, and made a very hard decision to end the relationship. But what I’m still grateful for, is that because of him I stayed in Guangzhou, I started my degree in Sun Yat-Sen University and met amazing friends at school. And you know, then I met the guy who took me to a snowy mountain for my birthday and I saw snow the first time in two years. A girl with a Chinese name Xuefang, Snow Fragrance, fell in love.
Making your dream come true is absolutely worth it!
Please share your biggest dream in the comments or write a blog post like this and send me the link!