There are places in the world where I am fairly certain I will never set foot. They are completely foreign places where the people speak languages that bear no resemblance to my own, the smells are as strange to my nose as the language is to my ears, and the food touches taste buds that have sat around bored for my entire life. These are places where the people look at me as if to say “Where did you come from, big goofy white man?” China is one of these places.
For some people a trip to China is a commonplace occurrence. More often, as formerly closed economies embrace capitalism, the world opens up to big business and the employees that do their bidding. For me, however, China was about as far away from home as I could ever think of traveling. If you had asked me several years ago what the likelihood was that I would be walking around a WalMart in central China getting yelled at for taking pictures of my friends in the check-out lane, I would have answered definitively “none”‘ (those pictures will not be on the site). Now, here I am almost a year later, and I am still regularly amazed at all that I experienced during the 10 day trip.
I have been very lucky. I’ve stood under the Eiffel Tower, kissed the Blarney Stone at age 12 (which, now that I think about it as an adult, is pretty gross), and stood in awe of Stonehenge. I’ve sat and listened in on debates at the European Union in Brussels, and I’ve ridden a bike by the windmills and canals in Belgium. But for whatever reason, all of those amazing places put together pale in comparison to the feeling of taking almost two hours to climb to the top of a mountain on the centuries old steps of the Great Wall of China to survey the land below. It really was one of the single most unforgettable experiences so far.
What I’m saying is that life is full of surprises. Some are good and some are not so good. I would do well to remind myself that we never know what the future has in store, and there’s even a chance that it might be something amazing.
*A note about the pictures in this post: If I had to pick one camera format to use for the rest of my life, hands down my choice would be a Polaroid Land Camera, specifically the Sx-70, but any will do in a pinch. No matter what I am snapping a picture of, they have a magical ability to make any subject look old and mysterious. I was heartbroken when Polaroid announced that they were discontinuing production of their instant line, although I have discovered that Fuji still makes a decent replacement. I am still hanging on to the last few packs of original Polaroid 600 film in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator in my garage. Each picture is a story that develops in front of your eyes, and I can’t bear to think about running out. That being said, these are only a fraction of the shots I took while in China. I have literally hundreds of digital pictures, each with their own story, that I will most certainly be sharing here at different points. In the meantime, click on each thumbnail to get a closer look.