Archive for June, 2013



So I spent a week in Hainan, China.

I must say that it was never planned. I didn’t have Hainan in my plans a few months back, or even a month back. A month ago I was in denial and in such a broken state because I was denied my Shanghai trip and I was being dealt a huge blow when my underlying health issues were finally unearthed by a single bloodtest. What a major twist to the story I had imagined in my head, what a kerfuffle I had to go through. Within a span of a few days it was as though the world I knew had changed and I found myself trundling through life, careening out of control. Words would not suffice to fully explain the blow I had to face and yet right now I can never be better. I don’t feel any better than I already am. Through all of these I learned to question what I had all along assumed in life and I learned to put my trust and faith onto things that I had originally thought to be fleeting. I felt betrayed by some and I felt deserted, yet never in a single span of time did I feel so loved and so cared about. The eternal conflict in me gnawed at my stomach and so many tears flooded the watergates. Things would get better, like they always do. It really wasn’t easy to sit back, pass back the steering wheel to the Big Guy and enjoy the ride. I’m learning, everyday.

Hainan is a beautiful place. I’ve always loved China but I knew I could never fully understand China until I used my heart to feel. Even though there were many places in China I’ve not been, so many areas I’ve not ventured, it was nice to step into Chinese soil and feel China with my eyes, with my heart, with every particle of my existential being. Hainan was where my father’s parents hailed from and even though I’ve always regarded myself more of a Cantonese than a Hainanese, this time I tried to embrace my Hainanese side and boy, it was unfamiliar and yet so pervasively heartwrenching. I grew to love the place. I’ve always been a citygirl at heart, and throwing myself into a rustic village for a few days was enough to send the city sirens in me wailing and screeching into alarm mode. Yet now I know. The orange lights could never do justice to the wondrous beauty that is the night sky.

Electricity elongates man’s waking hours, yet man fails to find time under the artificial lighting to look up and count the stars. 

I’ve never seen so many stars in my entire life and that night, I stood and stared at the night sky till the arc of my neck hurts and my head grew whoozy as I tried to contend the significance and grandiosity of a universe that has lived and will last way beyond my time.

Also, I went to visit my ancestral grounds which was tucked into a silent and quaint corner of the forest. Deeply nestled in the heart of the village, where my grandparents and great grandparents laid. As a History major who specializes in East Asia-Chinese history and a minor in China studies, it is baffling to be right there and going through the rituals and routines that have governed the life of a typical Chinese for decades, years, centuries and even a millennium- ancestral worship. I’ve read about it, learned about it, sat for exams about it and wrote papers about it, yet I never imagined that one day I would be there doing the exact same thing. Even though I cannot say that I had my heart in the entire process, I’m beginning to appreciate the need to venerate them, because its not simply an issue of respecting the dead. It’s an identity issue that will be too much of a trite when I explain it because I have yet to fully comprehend the complexity of that process, but nevertheless, significant and words here will only be too paltry when I have to explicate its symbolism. All I want to say is that my great aunt was in charge of sweeping the tombstones and maintaining it all these years since she was young and she’s now seventy odd. As I watched her, knelt down on the grass and settling so comfortably into that kowtow position despite all the mud and dirt, I thought bits of sand entered my eye and my vision blurred. That feeling was unexplainable and I felt so sorry and so grateful for that split second. It reminded me of my own duty as well. I don’t know if this makes sense because its an emotion that is totally unfamiliar to me.

Being in Hainan acquainted me to Village life as well. Sleeping on hammocks, riding on motorcycles (I now understand why so many wanna try for a bike license because heck, that feeling of having wind kissing your face as you skew on forward is exhilarating and dangerously addictive) , eating fruits freshly plucked from trees, being surrounded by waddling chicks and swans and all the farm animals that you can think of… the simplicity of village life would not do for a city person who is accustomed to the hum of traffic and buzz of seamless conversations, but for a person who had been bungling through life (aka me for the last few months), this was therapy and a salve. Hainan, China saved me, spiritually as well as emotionally. I hated the dire sanitation  and the rude city folks, but I loved the innocence of the village people and I really appreciated their tight knitedness. As more people move into the city in search of better job prospects and better living conditions, the village becomes almost like a taboo, something which people who prided on being modern would never want to associate themselves with. It becomes a symbol of backward China, a form of manacle preventing one from moving forward. Yet I see it as a place of respite, a place to convalesce and learn to live again. I needed that and that was what I got. I read somewhere that God will only have good plans and as abysmal as things seem you must never give up because the next second might just be the moment of hope that you’ve been waiting for. You will never know if you don’t keep marching on. That’s the beauty of it all. We can only move forward.

The city-Haikou and Sanya was beautiful and I can only say so much because it was just your ordinary city. Bustling with life, with neon lights flashing at you till your eyes hurt, the chatter of people and castering of vehicles…what’s new? The only thing that took me aback was the alarming crime rate and how skilled pickpockets in China were. As China progressed economically, many prospered along with it. Yet the harsh reality was that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Desperate times calls for desperate measures and crime was the fastest way to get one’s bread and butter. I had a near pickpocket experience too along the skybridge at Haikou (thank God for my native Chinese relatives) yet some others were not so fortunate.

China is a mirror which reflects this man-eat-man world and as disgusted as I am, I cannot help but feel sympathetic for those folks who have been forced to acclimate themselves to such an environment. Being born in Singapore, I have been blessed with a city that is considered sheltered and have never been truly exposed to the ruggedness of the wild. Now I know. As much as China surges, It can only float. It will never be able to find its own place in the sky so long as the majority of its people live from hand to mouth daily, so long as the rich keep exploiting the poor, so long as they cut corners in all aspects of life. Subsistence. It plagued China for as long as five thousand years and it will take serious ratifications for present day China to rise above. Perhaps Zhou Enlai was right. China is unlike America. It will always be burdened by its legacy and its history. If only one day China learns to fully embrace its history and extract the good and practice it again. To make use of history for the better and not otherwise.

I would never have come to such a conclusion if I hadn’t set foot on Hainan. I know better than to regard China as a polarity, and I know better than to assume that what I’ve seen so far is reflective of all other eight macroeconomic regions of this Middle Kingdom, but I am learning still and I have seen what I should have seen and what God wants me to see and I am contented. I can never thank Life and God enough for this. I don’t know what else life holds for me, what my future will be. There will always be a certain part of me asking what could have been, what if I end up as a failure eventually what if what if what if. Then I pause again and think of faith and trust, and the stars above and then I stop. A moment that passes is a moment that will be the past and that will be beyond my control. I cannot change what had happened nor can I alter the future, but right now at this very second I can choose and decide what’s best for me and I know, that as long as I’m breathing, I am capable of anything.

That’s why I chose this title for this post:


It’s only when you walk out of your self imposed sorrows can you open your eyes and heart to a better vista.

With this, I rest my case. Thank you for reading this post and I hope, somehow you’ll be happy too, come what may.

命运还在等待 一定会有美丽安排.


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