After my Big Wild Goose Pagoda excursion on Friday, I returned to the hostel to rest and meet up with fellow traveller Peter. I met Peter while we were both working in Dalian. After chatting via the interwebs, I learned that he would be heading to Xi’an, Chengdu, and finally to Hong Kong. After further chatting via the interwebs, he also foolishly agreed to climb Mount Huashan with me. Muah.
The climb, of course, is the thing that I must do on this trip. You know, on top of all the site-seeing and eating and eating and more eating. Also, did I mention the eating?
Since the big mountain adventure won’t happen until tomorrow, we’ve spent the last couple of days wandering the city together, chatting with other travellers, and getting up to no good. While I love exploring cities completely on my own, it’s also great to have someone here to share the experience with. And as is always the case, I’ve found that most of the people I’ve met on my travels have been rather amazing; they are adventurous, laid back, and full of fantastic stories. While Peter is a few years younger than me, he has travelled to places that are still on my list.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet some other amazing people on my trip so far. There’s Andrew – a 51 year-old rare-earth mineral explorer from Australia, who has some amazing stories of wandering the world (and is currently dealing with a bout of malaria). There are the two Dutch twenty-something guys who joined Peter and I last night as we watched the Brazil-Holland match; one of whom is finishing his Masters. We ended up having a great discussion about statistics and how he needs to analyze his data. Benjamin and Arthur are two undergrad students who have been living in China for the past 5 months on exchange. We joined them when we explored the Terra Cotta Warriors yesterday. Maggie is a visiting professor from Chengdu. Her and I spent several hours chatting the other day, and since then she has greeted me with a huge smile, and is often offering me food. There was also Haichao Liu, a local student who spent some time chatting with me to help improve his english skills. So many great stories. So many friendly faces.
While I love travel for its ability to open me up to the different corners of our world, I love how it also connects me with people I might otherwise never meet. True travellers, at least in my opinion, share not just a love of travel – they share a love of life. It’s quite infectious, and makes the experiences all the more incredible. Where some might travel China and complain about the dust or the heat or the crowds or the many things that aren’t the norm in North America, these people happily dive into the culture, learning as much as they can, and taking some part of the experience home with them. Honestly, I think if more people traveled with an open mind, we’d have far fewer issues in the world.
I’m going to miss these folks when I return home. Fortunately that won’t happen for another few weeks. In the meantime, Peter and I are going to organize the mountain climb, and figure out how we’re getting to Chengdu. Apparently there are pandas there. Clearly I have to go.