Sounds so simple, right? Wrong. I had make time for sitting back and relishing in the beauty that surrounded me. Soak in the sights and smells that were so exotic to me.
I learned very quickly that stealing away for even a few minutes was worth its weight in gold.
On the second morning in Shanghai, I got up early and strolled around the campus and just outside the gate. I bought an onion pancake from a street vendor and casually did what everyone around me was doing. My minuscule amount of Chinese helped enough to allow me to eavesdrop on conversations. Most of all I just sat and people watched.
The smells of the street vendors perched outside the gate of East China Normal University was intoxicating. Once I felt I had my fill, I walked back to campus to explore.
I came upon a small pond and rock garden hidden behind think a thick patch of bamboo. I followed a well worn path to the water’s edge and sat down on a rock formation.
I took a deep breath in of the humid air, filling my lungs with the sweet flower scents of China. I was really here. My dream did come true. I simply sat soaking in the beauty of that very moment. The birds were out singing, the fish swimming and across the bank a student was studying hard for the national exams. It was peaceful.
I finished my onion pancake, occasionally tossing tiny pieces to the birds and fish. I walked back down the path to explore more. I came across a bridge over a canal that was covered in water lilies; many of them were in full bloom. I snapped some pictures and headed back to the dorm hotel where we were staying making it back just in time for breakfast.
Total time out on my quiet adventures – 45 minutes. I had to get up early to do it but figured I can sleep when I get back to the states. I was only in China right now, this very moment, and I was going to soak it all in.