Being in new and unfamiliar places makes even something as simple as a trip to buy groceries or catching public transport a quest. It’s a theme I’ve been thinking about recently since I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past 6 weeks while in Hong Kong, Guizhou and now Yunnan. I get glimpses of people’s Real Lives, and yet the life I am living right now is as real as anyone else’s.
I’m writing this from a hostel in Dali, Yunnan. It’s run by an Australian and a Chinese couple and, apart from the ping pong table and Chinese architecture, I could really be anywhere in the world because hostels are so similar and attract the same stereotypes of travellers.
I’m in the Lone Asian Female with the suitcase filled with too many clothes to be taken seriously by the “true” backpacker. Since arriving here yesterday, I’ve met the Long Distance Cyclist, the Round the World in a Year Backpacker, the Older Couple, the English Teacher, and the Too Cool Traveler with Tatttoos, the English-Learner…
Even though it’s easy to put people into these simple categories, everyone has their own stories. The Cyclist is a social worker who wants to go to law school and has a predilection for chocolate and pancakes. The English Learner is a divorced Chinese woman in her forties who feels stifled by this society and travels to feel free. The Backpacker is an Chilean art curator who identifies as French and chose to come to China to fulfill a lifelong dream.
And me? I’m lost, seeking, and have no anchor to keep in tied to anything right now. In the end, I think everyone that I’ve been meeting on the road wants the same things: to push ourselves and seek adventures, and experience things we may not get to experience when back at home.