Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kashgar - Sunday Bazaar/Personal Reflection Time

Tenderness and sheer force of positivity have ensure me with the use of this (me precious) fatty laptop for at least another two weeks. At the end of which time, it will be replaced by a brand spanking new MacBook Air. I feel a bit mean, to be honest, replacing Mr. Old-and-faithful with a new Mr. hot-new-thang-fresh-from-the-city. There is, however, nothing else to be done. It is time. Nobody knows why a raven is like a writing desk. It’s just the way things go.

I’m staying home tonight because I’m not feeling too well. A little too much crazy street food perhaps? Or perhaps I’ve just been studying too much. Yeah. That’s it. The second one. Better not do too much more of that for a while! Fine, okay, I won’t. Instead, I shall regale you with more wondrous tales from my adventure just passed.

So what to tell you next??? There are plenty of facebook photos of me on a camel in the desert, which friends have been asking after. There is truckloads to talk about if I even start on the topic of Xinjiang/Uyghur food. There are tons more portraits of intense-looking old people that I want to post... So what to choose?
                “I CHOOSE YOU! THE SUNDAY BAZAAR!” I say, in my best Ash impersonation. And so, out of the pokeball pops this brand new post. 

To give you a little background on why I was (and am) so very interested in experiencing the Sunday Bazaar at Kashgar, I want to take you back to something I spotted about a year ago, when I was still in Australia. In the Lonely Plant China guide, on the very second page, there is a map of China with certain particularly interesting or famous things marked on it in little speech bubbles. Understandably, most of these little bubbles-of-note are crowded on the right-hand-side of the map, along the east coast, and very quickly thin out as you go right (head west) to central China, and by the time you get to the border of Sichuan and Xinjiang and Tibet, there is only one remaining bubbleworthy-according-to-LonleyPlanet thing. And you can probably guess that the Kashgar Sunday Bazaar was that little note.

I can remember so clearly, lying on my couch and flipping through the pages of the massive tomb, already panicking about not being able to see it all. I had bought a large map of china too I was trying to get my head around the different areas and where things were and just what-the-hell-kind-of-place I would soon be living in. I looked at that bubble, then I looked at my map, and realised just how far away Xinjiang was, and how damn empty that part of the map looked. I decided then and there, than no matter where else, I couldn’t return home without going to this fabled land ‘Kashgar’. I know, it sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s true, and the reclining-on-the-couch Bri would be totally proud of the me-right-now Bri. That map I bought is here with me now, on the wall beside my desk, covered in lines and circles of the places I have been. I can so clearly recall the panic and impatience I felt when I gazed at it only ten months ago. I had promised myself I would get so much done – what if I didn’t? I was riddled with doubt about my expectations meeting my actual capabilities in a real-world battle-to-the-death scenario where I would be brought down several pegs with an ego battered and bruised. What I see beside me now though, is a mixture of relief and fondness. I’m relieved that (for the most part) I didn’t have to confront myself for lack of travel-achievement. I’m fond of the memories that those lines represent.

As I stare at those lines, it becomes clear to me that something inside me has changed. I do realise how lame that sentence sounds, but bear with me while I try and explain myself.

In short, this year has taught me that it’s not about the lines.

When I look back, I think that perhaps for my life (so far) I have spent a lot of time making decisions with most regard given to what it looks like on paper. Before I actually arrived in the country, and in fact for a good while at the beginning of my life here, my ideas of travel where a lot about ‘number of provinces I get to’ or going to ‘the furthest place possible’. It was about ticking boxes and crossing off lists. Essentially, it was about drawing the lines on the map. The slow epiphany (oxymoron?) I have had, is well represented by the oh-so-overused cliché – “it’s about the journey, not the destination.”

How much do you do, just to say you’ve done it? I once slept on a pool table after I got drunk, just to be able to say I did it. Fair enough, I wasn’t thinking quite this philosophically at the time that decision was made, but I think the principle applies. 

So now, I realise that I haven’t even begun to talk about the Sunday Bazaar and you maybe just want me to shut up and show you more poetic pictures of foreign lands. Well you know what? That’s ok too. Why is that ok? 

Because life is a process to be enjoyed, not a draft for a hipster’s biography.

1 comment:

  1. "As I stare at those lines, it becomes clear to me that something inside me has changed."

    It's not at all a cliche to those people who have lived abroad and had that kind of experience, but is something that those who haven't can never understand.

    I once heard an expression: "The one who possesses two languages possesses two souls." It can be applied to cultures or foreign homes. There's something inside you that's changed - once you get home you can somewhat go back to being the old you, but there's that "China" part of you that longs to go back to exposed pipes in your home, dirty streets , local dialects, and weird street food.

    I am really enjoying your blog because it is a reflection of the blog I should've have kept up with better while I was in China. Now that I'm back (but going back soon!!), I regret not blogging more. I had the greatest experience of my life, but I didn't fully utilize my blog as a tool to share until I got back. I had journal that I posted online, but it didn't have picture or a "blog" feel.

    Keep it going!


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