Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

As I start to write this, which I did days ago, so I could capture thoughts, feelings, memories along the way, beyond what the blog itself was doing, the first thing that came to me was something from a tv show I used to watch, in high school I think, maybe middle school, im not sure.  but during that time, road rules was one of my favorite, cant miss shows, and its tag lines, ‘welcome to the ride of your life’, and ‘throw away your rules, these are road rules’, mean so much more now than they did then.

Because really, this has been the ride of my life.  The memories and photographs mean more to me than I could ever put into words.  Im actually not coming back with that much stuff…most of it isn’t for me anyway.  I wanted the experience, I wanted the days wandering Tokyo, the Shanghai nights, the Beijing history…everything from the foreign subways to the familiarity of mcdonalds.  I wanted the desire to experience it all and the thirst for more once it was done, and well, mission accomplished.

And, ‘throw away your rules, these are road rules’…this has totally been a way to let go of everything familiar and immerse myself in everything unknown.  Because, well, all the rules I once had are all of a sudden very different.

I am thankful for every minute…from getting to Tokyo and having to convince myself that I needed to shower and unpack before I went to explore, to the amazing time I had in Shanghai, to soul searching in Sanya, to my humbling trip to Beijing, to exploring there with friends and then not knowing quite what to do once I was dropped off at the hotel, and was once again alone.  To these last few days, realizing how far I had come, and how far I still have to go.  I’m surprisingly thankful for my ability to get lost, and even more thankful for my ability to always find myself.

And…I’m thankful for my ability to play charades.  Anyone up for a game?

So, what did I learn?  So much, and so much more than I could ever put into words, but to give it a shot…

  • Smile – it goes a long way
  • If you’re walking somewhere…strike that, if you need to go anywhere by a certain time, give yourself at least an hour to get lost – or find it beforehand
  • Brushing your teeth with the water will not kill you.  I’ve done it for 24 days…I haven’t gotten sick, not once.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no, and walk away quickly….otherwise you will end up with a purse, a watch, a bag, a bike ride, and god knows what else I was offered.  And don’t be afraid to scream if they actually grab you.
  • There is a magic chemical in Chinese sunscreen…it’s gross and runny, but somehow works like a charm.  I didn’t burn in Beijing, and I was the only one not to burn in Vegas.
  • Try anything, well, most anything – I did not try the street food and have not been sick.  But it’s amazing what you’ll find if you try everything else.
  • Take a deep breath and enjoy it.  All of it.  Because it’s such a ride…whether the trickshaw driver is like a salmon swimming upstream in traffic, or you’re at some random house, or taking a shot of Tabasco sauce, or wandering Tokyo to find the hotel.  Stop.  Smell the roses.  It’s amazing.  I’m not kidding.

Like I’ve said before, after all the preparation, I can’t believe it’s over.  But, I’m ready to get back to my regular life and where ever I go from here.  Will I do this again, most definitely.  This has been nothing short of amazing, and I don’t ever want to lose that.

Until next time….

Ghost Town

First of all, this whole blogging thing is much more difficult when the internet isn’t easily accessible.
Sanya has been….interesting.  It isn’t the beach destination I’m accustomed to, the one we found in Puerto Rico, or Hawaii, or where ever else we’ve been.  Not that I was expecting it to be, but I guess on some level that did form my expectations.
But, I’m in a different country, a different place, so why wouldn’t it be different.  Why wouldn’t I need to put the key card to my room in the slot by the door in order to use the lights or the fan.  Makes perfect sense, right?  Let’s back-up….
So I arrive at the airport…and theres some random guy trying to shove me down the escalator….really??  cause today hasn’t been enough of an adventure already?  Apparently he needed to go first, what do I know….then I’m pretty sure he was trying to take photos of me…really?  Dude, you picked the wrong person.  I am the queen of evading those who want to take my picture – Kristie, if you are reading this, think Universal Studios or Disney or where ever we were.
The next thing I notice is that it’s hot….like really hot and my clothes are sticking to me.  And where is my suitcase.  Of course its like the last one out…but thank god its here.  So I gather my stuff and get my passport and ticket ready to leave baggage claim.  Yes, they check that at every turn here.  The guy in Japan actually opened all of my stuff.  I’m surprised China wasn’t more difficult to get into.
So I escape the airport and step into the heat.  And here I thought it was hot before.  I find a sign for the taxis and start to head in that direction….but, my bag is apprehended by some random non-taxi driver, probably the ones that SFO tells you to steer clear of.  He asks where I’m going, and I say the taxi line, pointing to the area where you’d wait for a taxi.  He tells me he is a taxi….somehow I doubt that, and am quite pissed with myself for letting him get a hold of my bag.  But, I’m also thinking, maybe that’s how they do things here.  He looks at the address and wants it in Chinese, cause there’s no English here….and I’m like, that’s it…do you know where it is?  And he’s like yes, 100 yuan….awesome…congrats, ive just been swindled.  But, I guess if it’s taken me this long, maybe I’ve done ok.
So I end up in a bright red G6 with what I’m pretty sure is a bottle of alcohol attached to the dashboard.  Is this really happening?  I wish I had been brave enough to take a picture.  After about a minute ride, we make a u-turn into the hotel….yup, ive been swindled.  Annoying, but glad that’s the worst that’s happened.  Of course he gives me a card so I can call him if I want to go anywhere while im here.  Riiight…like I’ll be leaving the resort.
So I go to check in and apparently need to leave a 1000 yuan deposit.  I’m slightly annoyed, as I’ve already pre-paid, but whatever.  1000 yuan is like $158.  But I’m annoyed, and I’ve already been swindled today, so I make sure to keep the receipt.  However, remember the deposit.
I get quite the tour of the resort while trying to find my room, it resembles a small vegas hotel, or maybe medium sized.  Finally someone walks me to the room….apparently on a different 5th floor than I visited the first time.  I come in, and its hot…and im…a hot mess.  Hungry (I think the last time I really ate was brunch the day before), tired, sick of traveling, and my room over looks….a construction site….awesome.  I cant wait to sit out there and read.  Slow, deep breaths, I can figure this out.  Something to do…spa…that works.  So I schedule a massage and then leave in search of food.  And, im the only one here….there may have been one other person in the restaurant.  But really, that’s it.  So weird.  So, they ask me if I want to charge my lunch to the room.  Ummm….ok, that’s what we typically do, so I do it.
I think I went back to the room after that and just read the kindle.  I don’t really remember, since its been a few days, but that’s pretty much been my MO.  And it was raining.  Then came the spa.  90 minutes of pure bliss….I asked for 90, then 60, then they had me down for 90, and I guess if I’m not spending money at the pool bar, I might as well spend it at the spa.  Of course, they give me the thing to charge it to my room.  So I do so, cause I think that’s how it works.  Oh wait….not so much.  I end up on the phone with the desk or the manager or someone, cause no one speaks English.  Really, I just want to pay….can I pay here?  They don’t know….no one knows.  Finally, I get a supervisor that at least understands enough to tell me that I can pay in the spa.  Fine, done.  I guess the 1000 yuan deposit is incase I trash the place.
After that I tried the Chinese restaurant for dinner.  It was ok…a couple of screaming kids and me at a table for 8….nothing like that to make you feel lonely.  And the food was definitely family style.  Also awesome when there’s only one of you.  But, I tried it.  It was ok….food was good.  After that, I was excited to go hide in the bubble that was my room.  But I really wanted some wine to enjoy while I sat and read on my balcony over the construction site….
So I walk all over….a place this big has to have a store where one can get a bottle of wine, right?  Or not.  I end up having to call room service.  And ask for red wine…and theyre like…huh?  What?  We bring you menu.  Cause, why wouldn’t there be a menu in the room…far too easy.  So some poor soul brings a menu up…and takes my order down.  And then brings the wine back up.  Cause this is efficient.
Tuesday brought more rain….so, wine and reading it was, along with a spa appointment at 6.  Foot massage this time.  It was nice…other than the white wine/red wine debacle.  But, we figured it out.  The morning was nice enough to go out and swim in the lanes they have set up, until I realized that there were frogs and snails living in the pool…and a small pool of massage fish that you could pay to sit in.  ewwww…..frogs and snails living in the regular pool most likely meant no chlorine and no shield between me and the man spitting in the other end of the pool…yup, time to get out.  And of course, laying by the pool bar wasn’t really an option…unless youre fond of tecate, water, or coke.  But, I had to give them enough time to clean my room, since the only way to get my two drinkable bottles of water was to let the maid come in.  grrr…so I sat in the hot tub for a bit.
Wednesday was more of the same….a quick swim in the morning before anyone else was awake…lunch, and falling asleep reading.  And lots of thinking.  Lots….looking for, I don’t know what….but hopefully I’ll find it soon.  Then came my adventure with the hot stone massage. Interesting, and I would do it again, despite the bruises im sure I have.  And the wine adventure….four tries tonight…and Tuesday….le sigh….why is it so difficult?
And then today….I was going to send my laundry to the service here, but the thought of dealing with them was exhausting, so I decided to wash it on my own.  Great idea, until I realized it’s so damn humid, its not going to dry.  Hopefully all day and all night will be enough time.  Then I realized it was the first and only sunny day I’ve had here, so I scurried out to the pool, only to sit there for an hour with the rumblings of thunder in the background.  And then the storm blew in…and I’m pretty sure that there are more people working here than staying here as they all ran out to lock the place down.  So crazy.  So, lunch time an then reading time, and then I sat outside for a little longer, before my final visit to the spa.  Not before I spent an hour wandering trying to find water since they hadn’t managed to make up my room yet.  None at the fitness center, despite the vending machine….crazy to think it might be there, right?  Finally found some at the pool “bar”.  Crazy enough, I got burned in the hour or so I spent outside…only me.  Then spa visit, dinner, and chill time.  they actually got the wine order correct this time…and I was able to order it over the phone.  Go figure.
So tomorrow I move on….i hope to go for a run in the morning, maybe see the beach for the first time before I leave.  But, I’ve found out I’m way more into cities and exploring them than setting foot off the resort here.  The resort is enough of an adventure, thank you.  It’s…it’s safe, but there is a gross lump of soap or something in the shower…and the nasty flip flops the maid keeps leaving by my bed that have obviously been worn, and the dirty on the bed spread, and the dead roach in the hall….and….the frogs and snails in the pool…yeah, im good with city life.
I’m excited to see Beijing and to see Jaime again…it will be so nice to have someone to talk to, and to do my school meeting that came up out of nowhere, despite having nothing to wear.  However, I’m somewhat sad, as Beijing is my final destination on my adventure to Asia.  But, I’ve learned so much, and know nothing will replace the time I’ve spent here.
Overall, it’s been relaxing, but I’m not so sad to see it go, other than it meaning I’m that much closer to the end of this, but not sure that’s a bad thing.  Relaxing with a book, a porch, and some wine is much more fun with someone else.  I’m still amazed that there really aren’t that many people here – there was a band playing at one of the restaurants tonight, and literally no one was there.  Until a couple dining in the restaurant I was in walked out there.  So weird.  Makes me wonder how much I’ve missed by not leaving the resort (and how much additional $$ I’ve had to spend due to resort prices).
So, here’s to my final destination in Asia.  Here’s to my clothes drying tonight.  Here’s to another amazing time, to more exploring, and continuing to find whatever it is that I’m looking for.