23.4.13; Shanghai Airport (PVG), Gate 213. 15:49, 26 minutes until boarding back to HK
As I sit on the floor of the airport waiting to board my flight back to Hong Kong, on my fourth Natural Valley Trail Mix bar because I don’t have a single dollar in cash, I contemplate the complicated process I had to endure to travel from Bali on my return. Bali to Shanghai, claim double surfboard bag with clothes, bring it to transfer area. A man continues to blatantly stare at me possibly because he thinks I’m carrying a large coffin, or maybe it’s just because he’s never seen any foreigner bring something like this through an airport before. Check it in again, once again go through customs, take my laptop out, and wait the frivolous 2 hours before my 2 hour flight back to Hong Kong. The things one will do to save a few bucks, I guess, right?
A few minutes earlier, the area was quiet enough for you to hear a pin drop from across the room. Now, a Hong Kong tour group has entered, nearly doubling the amount of people here. One woman asks a monk if he wants to drink coffee in Cantonese, and this steers me away from my Korean review for my final examination and reminds me about the 5 minute oral presentation I have with Michelle in two days. How did I get to this?
My laptop charges in an outlet next to four other outlets that don’t work. My laptop will turn off completely if it isn’t charged, so even the slightest movement of the battery will make me lose my work (reminds me to save my progress). A man comes, another man comes by and tries to plug his laptop into every outlet, ironically it’s also a DELL. Still, more Cantonese loud conversations take place at the gate. I guess Mainlanders must also feel the same way Hong Kong locals think about Mainlanders in Hong Kong…
After being in Asia for 8 months now, I’ve traveled to some different countries, embraced different cultures, met some amazing people, and made a lot of great memories along the way and captured them with Kenny’s Canon Rebel XTI. Meeting my moms family in Philippines for the first time, finally going to Korea, partying with my cousin from Far East Movement and my sister in Beijing, surfing in Taiwan, enjoying Chinese New Year with Annie’s family in Shenzhen, riding ATV’s in Cambodia and even meeting someone that could be the one I relocate for. Coming from a blurred but exciting adventure in Shanghai with my sister and Philip, my friend that I’ve known for over 10 years who recently relocated, was so surreal. Here we were 3 people from a homely small suburb in the O.C. to being reunited in the vast populous, constantly moving metropolis of Shanghai. I’ve had the opportunity to see some amazing things, and although fortunate, many students that complain about how jealous they may be about what I’m doing have the same opportunity to do this for themselves, or had it, but didn’t act on it. And that’s not my fault.
The point of this mindless rant is that, after all the places I’ve been to, the place I’ve been dreaming of going ever since I knew about the exotic lifestyle of the traveling surfer was a trip to Bali. Although cut short because of final examinations, the one week I spent in this tropical paradise was the greatest experience of all my trips. Even if it takes me over 15 hours just to get back to residence, even if I have to lug my boards onto the bus again, even if the trip cost future Darren lots of money, even if I didn’t get the barrel I was searching for, even if I didn’t get laid, I had the most unforgettable time making new friends from Germany, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Tasmania, Switzerland, Germany (there were A LOT) and surfing in warm water, which is what every surfer on this planet dreams of. Eating cheap food at the Wa Rung that might possibly make you sick and give you the “Bali belly,” weaving through oncoming traffic on your own motobike that costs $5USD/day, riding double, even triple guys on a motorbike, surfing into the dark, drinking Bintangs and dancing at the Deus, waking up at 5:30am for Dawn patrol sessions although Martin had to wake me up, even passing out on the couch outside and waking up with an extremely swollen hand because some probable poisonous breed of mosquito bit the shit out of me; it was all worth it.
Which brings me to where I am now. I’ll probably fail my Principles of Public Relations course, maybe get C’s in Cantonese and Korean (BIG MAYBE), who knows what the hell is going on with my Advanced News Writing course, and 2 more weeks in Hong Kong before I go to Thailand for two weeks, only to return with 2 days left in Asia before I head back to the O.C. Sure, the thought of being back in H.B. for summer surfing sounds great, but without the prospect of foreign countries, not knowing the language, eating great food, meeting people that teach you new things, gives me extreme anxiety. Which has brought me to this conclusion: if I can’t find work in Cali during this summer, something that can keep me grounded for the next year at least, I’m either going to Korea to teach English or Shanghai where I can move in with my sister and Susan. It’s true: once you get bit by the travel bug, there’s no going back. I can’t stay in Cali and act like everything is okay, after I’ve been gone for so long. Besides the 5 weeks I spent in Cali during the summer, I will not have been home for over one year (including this summer spent at the Sebastian Inlet). Well, they just called my gate. I gotta go. Until next time. <3
Editors note: My group let me present with them, so I can still pass my PR course. After unpacking my bag, I discovered I left my favorite, most expensive pair of boardies at the camp. I told Sophe to give them to Top. Enjoy brudda, they deserve to be worn by someone who can actually rip.