I’m in China (again)! I really don’t know how many times I’ve been here and I wish there was some way to look up your passport information and find out where you’ve been through the years. Yes, I know that your passport is full of little stamps that tell you exactly where and when you’ve been…but if your passport looks anything like mine, it’s an unintelligible mess of smudged stamps, overlapping stamps, stamps where the ink pad must have been dry, stamps where the entry visa is 20 pages away from the exit and you’re not sure if they go together, etc.
I’m fairly sure that, especially if including Hong Kong, I’ve been to this region at least 30 times…maybe more. If you expand the net even further and include Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, and Thailand it’s probably approaching 50…in the 40’s at a minimum.
The point is, I’ve been to Asia a lot.
Like a lot a lot.
But for all those times I’ve been out here, most of the time it’s been for work; which is an entirely different animal to coming out for fun. For one thing, I’m almost never going to tourist areas. I’m going to the REAL China… the China the China Board of Tourism doesn’t really want you to see. The China with the poverty looked down upon by 5-star Western style business hotels. The China that those other western road warriors know very well and have a gentlemen’s agreement to just kinda not really talk that much about back home save for the couple of crazy stories to share with the normies at parties.
It’s an uneasy truce.
One beautiful thing that travel gives you, even when traveling for work like this, is perspective. I always leave these trips appreciating what I have and marveling at the resilience of others. Being more open minded to other perspectives, and taking a moment to breathe and reflect.