Going to Bali Alone (and escaping China)

I’m running away from China and going here:

Bali… here I come

I really need to escape China.  Badly.  And I think anyone that’s lived here longer than a year can 100% agree with me.
Beaches.  Rice Terraces.  No masses of people.  No spitting.  No people shoving me every corner I turn.  Sunshine.  Clean air.  Clean water.  Food without fake meat (aka no fox meat substituted for beef).

Oh yes.  Please.

Getting Out of China First

As I type this I’m in the Hangzhou airport.  Since it’s National Holiday Here (国庆节) I decided to take the safe route and come early.  During National Holiday, the roads are usually plugged up with traffic and the wait to purchase a train ticket can take a few hours.  Although my flight leaves for Bali at 11:00 PM, I decided to get my ass out of Shanghai at 2:30 PM and come to the Hangzhou airport early.

National Holiday is a week long holiday in China, and it’s the worst time to travel.

Traffic is insane.  Airline and train ticket prices triple–in some cases, quadruple.  Traveling domestically is just out of the question.  When 1 billion people all get on tour buses to go to the Great Wall, you can’t even tell the Great Wall is a wall anymore–it’s just a giant blob of people.  Tian’anmen square is the same.  The forbidden city.  The night view from Shanghai’s oriental tower.  The Terracotta Warriors.  All these sights turn into Chinese armies of littering, screaming, yelling, shitting (yes, shitting) and shoving war battalions.  And trust me, they’re not afraid to shove you right off the Great Wall and have you plunge to your death–they will do it to get ahead of you in line.

Although I’m leaving the country (hopefully Bali isn’t plagued with Chinese people), I still had to go from Shanghai to Hangzhou in order to escape China.

And good lord.  Even that was horrible.

I got shoved on the train 23 times.  I counted.

Mary had another explosive “China” moment when getting her train ticket at the Shanghai station.   I awaited patiently in line for over fifteen minutes to receive my train ticket.   However, when it was my turn to talk to the attendant, a Chinese man pushed me aside and cut in front of me.

In America, I probably would have said: “sir, I’m next in line.  Could you please wait your turn?”

Chinese Mary, instead, screamed the following:

“I’M WAITING IN LINE OR DO YOU NOT SEE ME?!  MOVE!!”

and I pushed his fatass out of the way.

And I wish someone could answer this question for me, but I don’t know why Chinese people have to board a train like they’re running away from an oncoming flood.  As soon as the gates open up to board the train, everybody crowds around the entrance pushing and shoving in a frantic craze to rush into the train before everyone else.

It’s almost as if the zombie apocalypse is coming, and unless you get on that train, you’re going to be eaten alive by the undead.

I almost wish we were fleeing a horde of hungry zombies, at least that would excuse all the excessive pushing and shoving.

一人旅

I haven’t been on a trip alone in a long time.  When I lived in Japan, I traveled around China and Vietnam alone and had the time of my life.  It was exhilarating.  Being in a foreign place, meeting new people, trying to communicate in a language I didn’t know (at the time my Chinese was terrible) was like an adrenaline rush.  Although I was alone, it was refreshing to reflect on a new environment and really learn about myself.

It’s a bit personal, but I just went through a breakup.  I dated a Chinese man for two years and we had a beautiful relationship.  But for a variety of reasons, the relationship ended (although not bitterly), and now we have gone our separate ways.  I was supposed to go to Bali with my ex-boyfriend, but here I am with a backpack slung on one shoulder and a luggage in tow with my other hand, strutting into the airport alone with both fear and excitement in my heart.

I think we all get lost abroad.  No matter where we are, whether that be China, Japan, Europe, India; it doesn’t matter the place, but being in a foreign country is taxing on you.  Even if the foreign country becomes your new ‘home’ (i.e. China doesn’t feel so strange to me anymore; seeing people spit in the street or eating in a dilapidated noodle shop are normal to me now), you still feel exhausted from the everyday drudge of putting up with minor cultural differences that gradually build up and blow up in your face.

So whether you’re living abroad or not, I think we all need a vacation.  Maybe some people think my life in Shanghai is just a permanent vacation, but that is so far from the truth.  Life in Shanghai is crazy stressful, and unless I escape this city once a year I think I’m going to club a 富二代’s (rich Chinese guy’s) beemer.

I’ll admit it.  I’m nervous and scared to travel alone.  I’m unsure I’ll meet people over there on that island.  I’m afraid people will look at me with that look of pity in their eyes, thinking “that poor solo traveler, she must be so lonely.”

But I want to stand proud and walk forward.  I’m going to meet people, enjoy the sights of Bali, and most of all figure out more about who I am (while taking a very much needed break from China).

So I’m off to Bali.  And who knows, maybe I’ll bring back more stories regarding China and Japan in the process.

5 thoughts on “Going to Bali Alone (and escaping China)

  1. Richard says:

    Beautiful post. Have fun in Bali. Man, your story is stirring up the wanderlust in me. Can’t wait until my next vacation. Mm, I get this surreal feeling every time I’m in an airport waiting hangar, like I’m leaving a part of my soul behind in each place I visit. Sounds crazy, but have you ever felt something like that?

    Haha. The train situation is so typical of China (and most of the rest of the world outside of the west actually). If you’re too weak/slow/nice, you’ll get pushed around and taken advantage of, in all areas of life. It’s part of my theory that China has gotten too rich too quickly without a moral system. Remember that little girl who was run over and no one stopped to help? That would be unthinkable in my parents’ generation.

    Sorry to hear about your breakup. Keep the faith that you’ll find you ocean shore one of these days. 🙂

    I totally get what you mean. When I first traveled alone, I used to feel a bit lonely at times. But now, I’ve learned to be at peace with my thoughts, entertain myself by reading books, or (more often) chatting with people sitting around me. People are surprisingly open with strangers and it’s amazing the situations you can get yourself into by being a bit inquisitive and open. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time in Bali though – it’s an amazing place.

    I don’t think you’ll get away from Chinese people though. We’re everywhere! Seriously, even in the smallest village in South America, I was able to find a chifa restaurant and ask for directions in Mandarin @_@. Crazy…

    • Shanghai Ronin says:

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      I’m in Bali now and it’s amazing. I thought I would feel lonely here since Bali is a popular honeymoon spot and romantic getaway, but so far it’s been really nice. There’s something about the beach and ocean that calms you, and even if you’re alone you feel so at peace.

      I notice a lot of couples, but they do all the stuff I do (like sit by the pool with a book).

      I’ve met a new person everyday and they’re sooo interesting.. Traveling alone gives you opportunities like that. I think you really build up strength and character through the process as well. Even though I’m here alone, I don’t feel as lonely. It’s much better than I expected.

      Thanks for your support, though. It makes me happy to know that other solo travelers also feel lonely sometimes. But surprisingly, solo travelers say sometimes they enjoy being in their own company and just want to take a break away from people and enjoy the sights around them in their own personal way. I guess everyone is different.

      And thanks for your support about the breakup as well. I think China makes me feel like a 剩女 because I’m recently single at 27, but in the rest of the world this is pretty common (as I’m realizing here in Bali). I meet so many single women travelers here that are just happy with themselves and doing what they want in life. China is so hung up on getting married ASAP…

      And, surprisingly, no Chinese people here! Only bumped into a few. Europeans and Aussies are here in droves, though!

      Anyway, off to sleep. 2 more days in Bali…!!!

  2. Kevin says:

    I hope you had a good time in Bali. It is a nice island. However, I am not sure if the overdevelopment is doing it any good. You described it right about running away from flood. My aunties would describe it as though there is a war going on. There was a book written about MacDonalds’ and it theorised that one good thing it did good to Hong Kong was introducing regimented lining up.

    I saw this recently and don’t know whether to laugh or cry for the guy getting pushed back out (see 0.32)

    • Shanghai Ronin says:

      Sorry I’m super late with this reply–didn’t see it!

      Wow I used to ride that line in Beijing… it’s pretty close to reality. I imagine Tokyo is like that during rush hour, too, right?

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