An American in Chengdu

Anniversary | October 24, 2009

A year ago today my first trip to China ended, as I flew from Shanghai to San Francisco via Vancouver. I’d been in the country for three weeks, and covered a lot of ground by train, plane, and bus. I’d seen Sichuan opera, a Naxi orchestra, and the Great Wall. I’d seen the biggest stone Buddha in the world, my first yaks, and the terra cotta warriors. I’d also gotten into a minor bicycle accident, bitten into a plant that made my mouth burn for days, and contracted an ankle infection that sent me to a Shanghai hospital for intravenous antibiotics. A combination of language and cultural barriers had meant I’d rarely known what was going on or why. When finding a vegetarian meal seemed difficult or impossible, I’d frequently filled up on crackers and fruit. In short, I’d discovered that having fun as a lone backpacker in China is hard work.

I’d made peace with my vacation’s rather low fun-to-frustration level by beginning to regard the trek as a sort of starter trip to China. I’d learned a lot that would make my next trip easier. Perhaps most importantly, I’d learned that I didn’t hate the place, which had been my biggest fear before I left (since I’d been interested in China for years, hating it would have been a little tragic).

So as I boarded the plane, I didn’t feel guilty about being glad to leave. I was unreservedly happy to be going to California to speak English and see my friends and eat Mexican food, but I was pretty sure I’d be back. I just didn’t know how soon that would be.

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    About me

    I've come to Sichuan in search of adventure, fluency in Chinese, and awesome vegetarian food. I have to concede that the baby pandas are very cute.
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