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The eyes of a traveler

Beijing adventures

By Frances Leah BrownPublished 5 months ago 3 min read
The eyes of a traveler
Photo by Henry Chen on Unsplash

I am on an adventure at the age of 59, performing in Universal Studios Resort in Beijing, China for fourteen months. Though I've only been here two months, it has already been an eye opening experience.

I am performing mostly in Mandarin Chinese. I don't really speak Mandarin, though I am getting familiar with some of the more common words, and so I had a huge learning curve when I first arrived and began to learn the script, and a serious amount of "Am I crazy?" when the language was slow to absorb in to my brain. But it did absorb, and I am speaking Mandarin to Mandarin speaking Chinese people. Yep, crazy. You know what though? It's a fabulous feeling to perform for the people that come to the park. I am thrilled to be here.

Food has been a challenge, but I've finally found some staples that keep me going; mostly I eat salad, fish, eggs, oatmeal, fruit and yogurt. Oh, and coffee/tea. Not bad at all. Once in a while I have a Jianbing which is a delicious street food crepe, and today I found a brewery that served the most incredible steak salad. I mean! Avocado and tomatoes and radish, purple sweet potato, cucumbers, spinach and a lovely bit of steak. I was sooo happy.

I've had to go into the city by myself on the metro. I got lost in the heart of Beijing and had a panic about it. I have since made it there and back without a mistake and THAT is huge to me. Even felt comfortable enough to walk around and window shop in the ultra European shops and stare at the fashions.

You know what surprises me most of all about this experience? Riding a train crammed full of people in China and not feeling afraid. In fact, other than anxiety over being lost, I haven't been afraid since arriving in China. You know what? I sadly can't say the same thing about being in Seattle. Nor can I even say it of our sleepy little suburb which, in the last 2 days, has seen a carjacking and a 13 year old boy shot on the street midday by the high school, across the street from the dairy queen. It makes me ill to read the news from home because the violence and hatred and demonizing of "the other" is astounding, and because I have a daughter who's a young woman. That's all I have to say. Young woman, and I often fear for her as an American female.

The majority of human beings that live in the US are working and loving and surviving as best they can. Just like the people I see here in China. Like the young mother and son on the metro. She was so tired that she was sleeping every time she closed her eyes as he son bounced, sang at and pounced her. I remember that feeling of pure exhaustion, and smiled at her when she stood up, took a big breath in, took her son by the hand and got off the train, probably to go make dinner and give a him bath and put him to bed before she crashed herself. I remember those days.

Something else that is amazing to me; people leave their bikes and motorcycles and scooters unlocked on the street. You can leave your bag on your chair when you go to the bathroom. If you show any bit of kindness, it's usually returned. And the language barrier? Everyone has a phone with a translation app, and all we have to do it talk into the phone and show the translation to one another. It works beautifully, and usually the interaction is easy, and sometimes even funny.

I have such a fragile, fleeting moment of time in this body in which I'm living, and am "excited and scared" about this experience, especially since the last few years had me thinking I'd been retired without notice. Ta Da! I'm not done yet!


About the Creator

Frances Leah Brown

I am a singer, a story teller on stage and in print, and a lover of family and nature.

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  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    This slice of your time in China is so enjoyable! Thank you for sharing!

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