Breaking the willow twig

What place under heaven most hurts the heart?
Laolao Ting, for seeing visitors off.
The spring wind knows how bitter it is to part,
The willow twig will never again be green.
—Li Bai

Sadly, our trip to China is coming to an end. The Family left yesterday. On Sunday evening we went to our favourite dumpling restaurant for dinner. As we walked there from our hotel we talked about China. Three weeks ago the crowded roads looked exotic: everything grabbed our attention, whether it was a bakery called Bunny Drop, or the fruitseller on his cart at the intersection. Now, we thread our way through the same traffic and crush just talking to each other, missing the exotica playing out right in front of our eyes.

We ordered our dinner. We knew the menu; the sense of panic at having to catch the waiter’s attention without knowing the language was gone. We knew a couple of words in Putonghua which would ease our way through the dinner. We ordered a couple of our favourite dumplings and added others we hadn’t tasted. The meal was nice, but not as good as the first time, when there was an expectation of the unknown.

It is hard to say goodbye to China, because we have seen so little of it. Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an are just scratching the surface. We saw a little more in Hangzhou. The Family agrees with me, we have to be back. But the next time will be easier, and if we come more often, it will eventually be like our trips in India. We will know exactly what to expect. The shock and pleasure of the unexpected will be missing. The first time is always the best, because it happens only once.

Through dinner we picked the things we liked the most. I will be in Beijing for a while more, finishing my work. I will use that time to post pictures of our joint favourite places. We felt a little sad, now that it is time to break the willow twig, to take our leave of China.

If you haven’t been to China, you must come here. It is different, sometimes a shock, but it is not something you want to miss.

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Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

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