I make a habit out of doing things that people say I can’t do: Walk through fire, waterski blindfolded, take up piano at a late age. – Rick Ford, Spy – the movie (2015)
I am a huge fan of the movie Spy. As I was reflecting on my past 2 months in Beijing, I have to say that I’ve set out, conquered, and defeated all plans that I wanted from this city. Now knowing how the city breathes, I navigate my bicycle ride to school so smoothly.
- I am able to take a hand off the bicycle handlebar, which is a big feat.
- I understand which side to move to when I hear a bicycle bell or car/scooter honk. (It’s the right side)
- I don’t fall off my bike or freak out when there are obstacles (ex: people, cars, rubbish, etc) along the bike path.
- I can watch people line up for their breakfast at the local jianbing shop as I cycle past
- I listen to the birds chirp on a cold day
- I say good morning and hello to the supermarket shop owner and the bicycle shop seller near my school
All of these tasks had given me so much stress when I first started cycling to school. Take my eyes off the road?! NO WAY! I’m going to smash into that car parked in the bicycle lane! The beauty of doing something is that, once you start doing it, it becomes so natural after a bit of time. Yeah I lost balance a million times. Maybe touched the back of someone else’s tire with mine about two or three times. I’m also getting really good at being more of an aggressive cyclist, claiming my space (you need to be!) and using my own bell when someone slow is in the lane/not paying attention.
As I’m studying for the HSK 3 level exam which is in 10 days, I have to look back and see how far I’ve come. I’m still uncomfortable talking to people who are impatient with me and my Chinese language skills, but I still try. I’m putting myself out there to make interactions when I feel like hermit-ing in my room. I’m no wear near perfect with the language, but looking back, it’s been 6 months since I started my Mandarin lessons. From, forgetting my own Chinese name, to listening/writing/speaking in a foreign country. Are you freaking kidding me!? This is unreal!
Last weekend I was sick with the flu after drinking, sleeping late / waking up early since my Canadian friend was in town. It was bad – I felt like I had vertigo, had a headache, sinus was thoroughly messed up, etc. I was just sick. Someone upstairs must’ve played God because one day the weather was a beautiful 16-19 degrees and then the next day it was 5 – 10 degrees. That’s Beijing though. Weather changes quick and you should quickly adapt! As I was bed-ridden on the weekend, I’ve come to realize that In the full 2.5 months I’ve been in Beijing, I haven’t had a single week or weekend alone which is nice. I’ve had a really really active social life (which I enjoy), meeting new friends, doing new activities and feeling all around – welcome in this city, the people, and culture.
Leaving this city for the winter is one met with a bit of bittersweetness. The vibe is the city is very cool but I’m ready to head out. I can feel the pollution coming back full force. Plus the dry the weather just isn’t for me anymore. Humidifiers, heaters, blankets, fleece and everything related to keep me warm. It’s all too much.
I head off to Xi’an and Chengdu in about 2 weeks to see Terracotta Warriors and (hopefully) some pandas. After that, I rendez-vous with my mom in Tokyo – Narita Airport. It’s funny. She’s older and has travelled abroad so many times but she still needs help with the basics and figuring stuff out. I guess that’s just what happens when you get older and travel. New technology is scary, being in a foreign place is very very scary, and not speaking the language can be terrifying. I guess I’m just used to being very uncomfortable all the time.
Here’s the game plan for the next few months:
November: Xi’an and Chengdu, China >> Japan
December: Japan >> Philippines >> Malaysia
March – onwards: Australia – I should probably make some money again instead of consistently spending it 😛
If you’re ever on the fence about starting a new venture, a new hobby, changing habits, let me leave you with some parting words from Rick Ford:
“You really think you’re ready for the field? I once used defibrillators on myself. I put shards of glass in my fuckin’ eye. I’ve jumped from a high-rise building using only a raincoat as a parachute and broke both legs upon landing; I still had to pretend I was in a fucking Cirque du Soleil show! I’ve swallowed enough microchips and shit them back out again to make a computer. This arm has been ripped off completely and re-attached with *this* fuckin’ arm.”
You got this.