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Around the World Travel to China

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Around the World Travel to China: an Excercise in Patience

Some reckless soul in the Loft Hostel in Budapest left a National Geographic China Special Issue laying out upon a table. I was immediately drawn to it, and opened it to find my own love of East Asia boiling up within me. Every morning I have to grit my teeth and bite my tongue to prevent myself from making a manic jump to Japan, Hong Kong, or China. Each day, in the lull of my thoughts, the sweet smells of the East arise to meet me. I try to suppress these feelings, as I know that if I did not do so I would never travel anywhere else in the world beyond the great Buddha arch that runs from Japan to the north of India to the Mongolian shrub-lands on its way back to Japan. My very soul travels this route every night in dreams, and I awake with the vibrant taste of East Asia in my mouth.
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Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Budapest, Hungary- July 24, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos
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I love China. I love it’s grit, I love it’s grim, and I love it’s slippery market floors drentched in blood and vegetable guts. I love the obnoxious floresent lights of Chinese cities at night and I love the wind the blows through the dusty noman’s lands that lay forgotten by the even the Chinese themselves. I love in China the same qualities I hate in the rest of the world: factories, shopping complexes, loud men blowing snot rockets and chain smoking in trains, young girlfriends throwing temper tantrums at their young boyfriends, city traffic, the black “dust” that clings to ever stationary surface, the noise, and the squalor of slums. I love China and I do not really know why.

But I know that there is an entire world out here that I want to live out and learn from. East Asia always lays at the end of my rainbow – it is my pot of gold – and, therefore, I know that I will arrive there at the terminus of this journey around the world. My love for this always far off land can only ripen as I slowly creep across the globe, ever getting closer and closer.

Temple in mountains of China.

I looked through the pictures of the fields, mountains, peasants, factories, and shining-light cities of China in the National Geographic magazine, as the splendors of the antique white-man land that I am standing in seeme to shrink to a measly pulp. It is funny how contrast has a silly tendency to belittle the present. I tried to ignore these feelings – I tried to find interest in the landscape of Budapest which stretches out before me like a stone cold universe. But my mind, instincts, and intuition have already packed for the East. I knew that this would happen soon enough.

Today it is raining in Hungary’s capital. It is the kind of rain that keeps people inside of walls and behind doors, the kind of rain that seems to have nothing else to do other than keep raining all day long. The sky is dark and the city darker. Days like this make me want to run. I am restless. So I went looking for airfares to Turkey in a lustful effort to jump these few remaining Western hurdles that lay in my Path to the East. I saw a sign in front of a travel agency that offered a $200 ticket to Istanbul. In more modest times, I would have thought this an expensive price to pay, but now it was a feast to behold. But what to do about my bicycle? What to do about riding east? Would I pack the bike on a plane? Do I really just want to fly over Romania and Bulgaria? Do I really feel like bothering with walking into a travel agency, booking a ticket, paying for it, going to the airport, being raped through security, and sitting on a sterile airplane full of sterile people just to do what my own legs can do on their own (if given the proper amount of time, of course)?

I am on a Vagabond Journey Around the World. Do vagabonds fly in airplanes?

I quickly grew tired of thinking and just returned to the hostel feeling as comfortable as a rainy-day, soaked-wet alley cat. I did not bother going into the travel agency. It is difficult for me to remain in a place when I want to leave. I tend to go at the first urge of going. But I am learning patience, and staying put through these sporadic urges is good training for the mind. I listen to my intuition always, and I am being told to sit tight and enjoy this excercise in patience. It is my head -not my Heart – that is telling me to run.

Europe is wonderful, but Europe is about friends. I have friends here in Budapest – good people, too – but something about the city seems as hard as the stone it is etched from. I feel as if I cannot penetrate this place.

No, I feel as if I cannot step out of myself here. My walls of introversion have become as hard as these streets that I walk upon, as unpliable as the great stone walls that I sleep within. For some reason I am not breathing air deep down into my gut here, but am rather taking in short, shallow breathes. The Loft Hostel is good, but I am a private sort of person. There is no privacy in any hostel, and constant contact with people makes me want to take flight and hide for cover. There is nowhere for me to abscond to.

“Too much contact with people brings conflict, hatred, and attachment. To rid myself of inner conflicts and hatred, I must walk.”Japanese poet monk Taneda Santoka

So I abscond in my mind alone and think and dream of China and East Asia, and curse the damn photos in the National Geographic that threw these images back into my face just as I was settled and comfortably traveling through Eastern Europe. China is like an old dirty friend that has worked its way deep into my heart, history, dreams, and life. I like my dirty friends.

But I shall not be flustered by such flights of mind and memory! I shall not fall victim to impulse overriding true intuitive discipline and go rushing off to another land before I have even begun to taste the one that I am standing in! I have done this far too often in these 9 years of travel. Throughout this time, my Path has been wrought with global zigzags, jumps, sputters. Now I feel as if I want to carry through a continuous journey around the world from West to East.

Always moving East.

I watched a girl cook pea soup in the hostel yesterday. She cooked and cooked and tasted and added more ingredients all day long. Seriously, she made pea soup for like four hours. She cooked that damn soup until it was cooked perfect – until it could be cooked no more. She had patience to make the soup exactly as she wanted it. Then she enjoyed thoroughly the spoils of her labor to supreme delight. Every time I looked at her for two days she had her face stuffed into a bowl of pea soup, ever enjoying the sustenance of what took so much patience to prepare.

Likewise, I will watch as the landscape and people – as well as myself – gradually cook, as I patiently move from West to East; ever and always taking in the entire Path between the flip-sides of planet earth.

As I slowly boil my big pot of pea soup.

Links to previous travelogue entries:
Hennessey Hammocks
Cheap Travel Means Studying Foreign Language
Postcards from Around the World
Bicycling to Budapest

Around the World Travel to China: an Excercise in Patience
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Filed under: China, Europe

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap

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