On the road in China

When Dani left the country, he went back to his hometown in Switzerland to settle some affairs plus to fix his student visa for China. The good thing about being a Swiss or European in general is that it is so easy for these people to move around anywhere on the globe. He stayed with his parents and spent time with his nephew and nieces for three weeks before moving to China.

His first stop was Shanghai and a Korean girl named Heeyoung. He describe Shanghai as “boring… like a pretty but overconfident, self-indulgent, arrogant girl” and although he has enjoyed numerous, unconventional parties in them shanghai clubs; he was looking forward moving to Beijing. However, he found the Korean girl quite the opposite. She was 31 and has been traveling the world for the last one and a half years. This was not the first time he found himself enamored by older women; he had a fair share back in my country. The last one was Yuri, a half-Japanese half-Malaysian 37-year old woman whom he was having amazing sex with until she started taking the entire arrangement more seriously. And worse, she did so during the world cup’06 season. Nothing comes between Dani and the world cup; the sex can follow later after the games are over. In fact, he timed his resignation upon the inception of the world cup games so work would not get in the way of his football viewing.

He was 27 then; there must be some other golden number for Europeans to blossom into maturity.

Heeyoung, on the other hand, was firm enough to tell him she is not interested into diving into something serious (including sex, damnit! he emailed me in caps lock). She was leaving for Korea in a few weeks and was trying to avoid any complication. It didn’t stop them from spending time together though, from clubbing to dodge ball to great wall trips. And they did until it was time for her to say go back to Korea and for him to start his Mandarin class at the University in Beijing.

While Dani was busy coping with being an average student in China (from being a glorified expatriate in my country), I was busy handling the aftermaths of my four-week holiday gone wrong. At the last minute, my 34-year old English boyfriend choked at the Heathrow airport and missed his flight to manila. Three times. For whatever it was worth, I blamed it to karma. At the back of my mind, this was some sort of punishment for whatever it was I did to my former boyfriend, for the alleged pain I supposedly inflicted in him (and in the rule of karma, it was actually irrelevant if the action was done consciously or subconsciously). The second time David choked (that was the name), I ran to Dani for comfort. Crying about it was supposed to be out of the question, but I did anyway. Dani advised the obvious and I pretended to embrace it because there was no other alternative on hand.

However, there was the challenge of deciding what to do with the outstanding hotel and flight bookings. I could either cancel them or go through them alone. I did the latter.

But what else is there to do in a holiday pre-planned to be supposedly spent with someone but realized into conception alone? I went to dinner alone and swam alone and drown myself in alcohol alone. Dani handles this sort of stuff better than I can. And perhaps if this was not the first time it happened to me, I would have went through the ordeal head high and composed. But then, knowing myself quite well, those are the things that I can only afford to happen to me once. Twice would be suicide.

I was fond of David and time spent with David, though less exciting than the ones with Dani, they were the ones that makes me more satisfied and contented. Dani’s stories makes me yearn for more, makes me wonder what it would be like to go out there and discover the world. David’s stories are stories of permanence and stability, of gradual conformity of the familiar, of lazy mornings without the utter bewilderment of what it is that is out there. And at 26, I liked to experience that. I can always hear Dani’s stories until I am old. This was what I thought the type of life I want to experience.

It wasn’t. When David choked, a part of that hope got lost and was never recovered. I was too brazen for him, too volatile for the quiet lifestyle he was used to. One could also say his lifestyle was too quiet, too familiar, too smooth for my taste. I have tried to succumb myself to it in the hopes that I would not take the first step towards liberation.

to say that it was Dani’s abundance of stories that influences my travels, it was David’s lack of it that pushes me into my first lone travel towards the labyrinth of cross-culture interactions.

and that was how i ended learning how to scuba dive.

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