The night before my last week in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China.
Many endings lead to many new beginnings… It feels like yesterday when I… no it doesn't - it feels like 2 years and 4 months since the first day I set foot in the real China - or my version of the real China.
At the end of this week (25 April) it comes to an end. There have been farewell dinners (and one or two more to follow) and farewell drinks (with surprisingly good Great Wall red wine circa 1999, although it's difficult to taste it when it hits your throat directly).
Am I excited about the tour? No, as it is not yet a reality that has sunk in. I have heard that the school my company has sponsored has changed their mind and will allow me to teach there for a week - so this will give me a full circle exit from China and Hong Kong. I exit it as I entered it - homeless, extremely budget minded and teaching English.
Many people have asked me: "What have you learned the past 5.5 years?" Big question with a long answer spanning 5 notebooks that I have yet to dust off.I think the correct question, or the question easier answered is: "What have you discovered the past 5.5 years?"
Many things - mostly that if you take chances, opportunities present themselves - some good, some bad. But sometimes the bad opportunities turn into the best ones if you're willing to work through the initial growing/adapting pains.
Hard work is rewarding, until the money isn't enough. But it's never enough… what seems like "millions" now feels like "thousands" next year and "hundreds" the following year - which is usually the time you get edgy and they give you a raise, but even though it's much more than you initially received it's still not enough to get you as excited as the first year in the job when the money REALLY didn't matter, only the opportunity to prove yourself did.
I have discovered that reporters get it wrong - not because they are necessarily wrong, but because they are writing articles from a desk far from where the "blood hits the mud". Time magazine did a piece on China that I had to laugh at, but would have thought of as good reporting a year earlier. There is no substitute for seeing with your own eyes - which is probably what this trip is about in a big way. Awakening the giant within to truly observe the gigantic possibilities out there.
OK - that was my "deep piece" for the tour - we will return you to our original broadcasting of a fun, excited Laowai couple travelling throughout the Eastern Hemisphere on their way home to the mother of all cities - the Mother City.