By a strange twist of fate, just as the clock striked 12.00am on my 24th Birthday, I did something I never thought I would do.
I, Phebe Bay, the self-professed India travel lover and “guru”, booked myself a trip to China. on a Singapore Airlines flight.
Now if you are confused why travelling to China on a SIA flight is some kind of big news, that’s because I usually don’t travel on “premium” flights. These are luxuries. Furthermore, if I had a chance to choose between China and India, it would have been India, anytime.
This is no easy decision too. The flight tickets easily set me back by SGD600. The trip would cost me way more than SGD1,000 – the price of a Prada wallet.
But given the recent rape cases – that of a Swiss tourist being the most recent, I decide I cannot cope anymore with such “risks”. It’s high time India does something to its security situation before I will ever go back. I will go to China instead. It also happens that a Friend H is currently working there, and it would be nice to meet up. (The SIA tickets were on promotion.)
I also thought that China is so vast – surely there’s something that would catch my eye?
After all, I am Chinese. My grandfather hails from this province called Chao Zhou, and my grandmother, Fu Jian. Hope I do get a better perspective of my heritage, and the country that has been touted as Asia’s biggest growth story.
Beyond that, I do confess that I have a slight obsession with Chinese palaces. When I was a little girl, I used to pretend that I was a princess 格格, after catching the serial, 还珠格格 (Princess Pearl?)。I love the songs, the scenery, the times where they rode around the grassy plains with their horses. I love the design of the palaces and perhaps, it’s just time to get a feel of the actual Forbidden City which thankfully is no longer forbidden at present.
I am also a big fan of Chinese Wu Xia Pian (Martial Art Films) set in the olden days and boy, I think the Great Wall of China might be able to blow my mind (notwithstanding the number of tourists there). Just looking at the ancient monuments from the past would surely be able to help me understand these films better and the reasons why the battles took place.
I do confess that these aside, I really have nothing much to do in China. Shopping and buying fake branded stuff doesn’t excite me. I might do a bit of Tao Bao shopping online but that’s beside the point. I also do confess that I thought of skipping China entirely, and take the train from Beijing to Mongolia instead. It does seem way more exotic and exciting.
But I guess, there’s really no harm stepping out of my comfort zone, visiting places that Singaporeans would usually go to. Because for what it’s worth, the meaning of the place is very much dependant of what the traveller makes out of it.
And I am confident that China, with it’s 9.6million square metres of land and 1.3 billion people, will be able to touch my heart in a special sort of way.
I am not looking to be vowed by towering skyscrapers, big shopping malls and spanking new infrastructure, but to be touched by the humility and kindness of the Chinese people, and be vowed by the greatness of historical monuments against the backdrop of boundless plains.
I may be dreaming, but let’s wish me luck.