China Girls Abroad


Enjoying the sunshine in EgyptYoung Chinese are travelling everywhere! I am swamped with pictures from my friends on Renren (Chinese version Facebook)’s endless pretty images of Europe, Africa, US or resort islands that I have no idea even which continent they belong to. I am not a student with good self-discipline, and couldn’t resist the temptation to scan all the photos. However, I always feel a little bit sad about the time I have consumed on this, as I never see much apart from the hotels, food and show off self-portraits. Maybe I am too jealous and critical in saying this. After all it was their holiday and they have the right to do anything that made them happy. Still, after seeing tons of this kind of pictures, I think there might be better ways to enjoy travelling.



There is a popular saying, that we must move forward in our mind or body, so either read or travel. So I travelled to several countries in north Europe in 2011. Like most Chinese students studying in UK, I wanted to make full use of my period. In order to make my travel more meaningful, I did download and print a lot of tips and materials from web blogs. On the way to each destination, I read these tips in case that I spent too long on one thing and missed other important landmarks. However, as I was about to finish the whole trip, I felt exhausted and didn’t feel much achievement, as I had planned everything, including how to travel, where to live, what to eat and who to meet. There was no surprise any more. What I had done was just turn the pictures from 2D to 3D in reality, and then use a camera to change the 3D back to 2D and save them into my laptop and marke “I have been there”. I couldn’t help asking: what is the value of my travel? As I made the decision to go alone, I called myself a backpacker, but the truth is I hadn’t yet enjoyed any genuine spirit of this especially the most important one—freedom.


After this first trip, I thought again about the travelling process and tried to figure out what was the problem. Then I realized it might be that I had kept too much of other people’s opinions in my mind, which disturbed my own appreciation and relationship to the journey. As you know, all the downloaded tips were written by other travellers, and they expressed their ideas about the places, which prejudiced how I saw them. Then the result would be undoubtedly I felt exhausted following all the tips and had no space and time to form my own perceptions. To be honest, it was not a creative journey, but a copy of the journeys of others. Yes, I was travelling alone, but not free, bearing all these dos and don’ts in my mind.


I decided to change by giving up the travel tips and being more courageous. There might be another world if I became more open to local residents and culture, and more responsive to unexpected surprises and even accidents, like a real backpacker. In the last Christmas holiday, I travelled around Egypt from north to south. This time I didn’t restrict myself at all and just let things happen, though it could be pleasant or unpleasant.


Talking with people is always an easy and good way to get knowledge. I had read lots of news about the legacy of the Egyptian revolution, but none can compare hearing “Freedom is not free ” from the local residents in Cairo; I also saw a lot of pictures about children in poverty, but none can compare with small conversations and little hugs touching the bottom of my heart and striking my mind. I have also learned different ways to show traveller’s respect to local people, and the best is a simple “hello” in their language.  Some friends ask me “Do you feel safe travelling there?” I always reply “Smile, if you feel insecure, as no one would like to hurt people who give a smile like sunshine”. Apart from language and conversation, putting on local clothes is another way to make you forget yourself and have lots of fun. Good and bad luck comes and we have to accept both. 


Smile to strangers, join in local culture and always forget cameras, and even myself. These are the “tips” of my own, which have brought me happiness. China is becoming more diverse and various, and more people can afford to spend holidays in another country or culture. Try thinking about your own way to travel, rather than just staying in the arranged hotel, having arranged food and taking the same old pictures!


The more I have travelled, the deeper and clearer I realize that, this whole universe is not just east and west. There are far more cultures different from there, and more worlds different from what you and I have observed and imagined. When more people realize this, would people from different places become more tolerant and conflicts between different nations, races and religions be reduced?


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