Old Journal Entries when Noel was Adopted.

Beijing Travel Blog

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Thursday August 11th, 2005
Beijing, China
10:30 am

How weird it is - to actually be in The Forbidden City. I remember reading back in 6th grade about the mass killing of college students here in 70's. And now, here I am. Walking in the picture of the man infront of the tank. Only 30 years later.

How crazy this all is. Large chinese buildings, all with different names corresponding to what dynasty they were from. They are large, monstorous buildings. I feel like I'm in Mulan.

In Europe, I could semi understand languages not my own. Here, I am living the definition, down to the last word, of Culture Shock. When I entered this guarded city, I was bombarded by a Chinese family that wanted me to pose next to their two daughters. These people so desperately want to get involved in Western Culture, and for that, I feel horrible for them. If they adopt our ways, they too will become a boiling pot nation of abandoned tradtions.

And I can't believe how many people there are here. Right now I'm sitting and waiting for the lagging tour group, surrounded in a cloud of people who appear to be doing absolutely nothing at all.

Originally, all I wanted to do in this country is go some Chinese bars and get drunk and have fun. But it seems I've been possessed by the same thing that overtook me in Europe. A divine sense of peace and awe of God's creation.
But I'm off to find the tour group. I'd be screwed if I was lost from them here.

Sunday August 21st, 2005
Beijing, China
8:30 am

Our local guide Mary is telling us the schedule of the day, including meeting the baby later tonight. Gulp.
(The rest of the entry is very hard to read, with some words missing because of the rocky terrain) We're in Nanchung right now where there are 169 (can't read) people per square ft. It's a beautiful, hot and humid city with hardly a mountain to be seen, except deep in the horizon. Everthing is green here, the farmlands taking over much of the land. It looks a lot like Mexico. The poverty is undeniable. Every working man/woman we pass is grim with blank, hopeless expressions.
A simple wave is the only thing that could connect me with this culutre, the language barrier almost impossible to (can't read).

The tiny little brown homes are all crumbling at the edges. They litter and flank the main road in clusters, seperated by expansive rice fields. No wonder they wear those large hats...It's as though WWII took place right here - poisoned the water turning it to a greyish brown hue, bombed the apartments, broke out all the windows, and scattered whatever hope these natives had of a life. Jesus. How can such a powerful country as China, once a superpower for hundreds upon hundreds of years, fall so far and horde away life from its own people? Unlike Beijing, there are no tourist traps here. No black markets. No ads. There is only lost hope.

I can't even write in this anymore. The road we are on is so (can't read) compared to the living conditions around (can't read).
Why can't nations, even our own, focus on their own poverty and economy first before worrying about what the rest of the world is thinking?

The ground here is (can't read), furtile with all the years of digging and cultivating. The men here are so (rest of paragraph not readable)

Why? Why did I waste so many damn pictures of Beijing when a place like this is what needs to be photographed and looked at the most?
Fuck this. I can't honestly look out at these people any more. Their stare is so solemn. So deep. So sad. And it makes me want to write madly for pages and pages and pages in this journal so I don't have to look up again and see those eyes. I am ashamed to take anything in my life for granted after I have seen through those eyes.

Monday August 22nd, 2005
Beijing, China
9:55 am

This trip. This one-week trip has changed my life. In a measly 7 days. And for once, I can say what the change is without speaking in riddles or obscure references. I feel exactly this:
I've been bitter my entire life. Bitter about a lot of things. But mostly revolving around my childhood (hell, when don't the problems start in childhood?). I can honestly say that only my Dad knows what kind of childhood I had. Everyone else gets the short, sweet version. In a nutshell, I was bitter about how fast I had to grow up. I grew up so fast and facing adult problems I wasn't ready for.
You know how as a natural mechanism, you block out the things that hurt you? And then you say you learn from them. But no matter what facade you put over it, it still hurts.
And it hurt me the way I grew up. With my family, I grew up by myself, because, well, they simply weren't there for me. And being no fault of their own, my mom was sick, I was her caretaker, and dad was always at work. I was my own independent person at much too young of an age.
And I think I was bitter because I missed my childhood years. You know, hanging out with friends after school, playing sports, building tree forts, sleepovers, and blah and blah and…
I think at once I was a very outspoken, loud, rude, and extroverted person. And as the years went by, I had to change, whether I liked it or not. I had to become serious. I had to be become introverted with my feelings, because at the time I had to be the strong one of the family. And I had to become overly caring, because it was the only way I could get my mother through the hard times.
It all boils down to the question - How do you truly know when you have let go of something, learned from it, and appreciated it? Hate and anger are some of the most powerful human emotions, and though easily suppressed, you can only keep them down for so long, because being repressed, that's when bitterness comes into play.
And I can finally admit how bitter I have been.
But honest to God, something has snapped in me. It's as though in one shift motion, all my anger, all my bitterness, everything I had repressed about my childhood, was let go. Just...let go. It was the most surreal feeling I have ever had the moment I held Noel in my arms.
And all it took was a simple week.
The only way I can describe this change is this: A sudden sense of importance in the world. And maybe it’s all the responsibility to be the “bigger brother” now. Someone to look up to. Or maybe its all this poverty surrounding me, this inescapable poverty that is so prevalent that it can hardly utter anything but a whisper for a chance of change or an outside interference. Or maybe it was this chance to do something that many only dream about or see in the movies. I don’t know what one did it the most. All I know is this not just a fleeting emotion. I have this sudden significance about my life I didn’t have before, or have always had, but have had too low self esteem to realize it.
If anyone really knows me, I hate complimenting myself and it seems I can only see the potential and gifts and talents in others, but not myself. So it’s hard for me to say this because I feel like I’m wrong, but this trip has got in my head that I have so much talent I have suppressed to offer to the world and I don’t have the time to waste it.
I feel now, more than ever, that God has a plan for my life.
I don’t believe I will ever tire of traveling. Our world is so big, and to really open your eyes, experiencing other cultures, are not only essential, but the greatest way to break down the cultural barriers that divide us.
But maybe the barriers should stay up. If they were completely gone, everyone’s culture traditions would be forgotten and stolen, no longer sacred. If only more people were able to pass these cultural barriers through a door instead, equipping knowledge, words, and acceptance instead of guns and power to breach the gap.
I mentioned before that I felt more out of place here than in Europe. After awhile though, looking past their culture differences such as language, you see that the same beating heart, soul, and human principals run through us all
And none of us should ever feel alone. Anywhere.
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photo by: Eric