Reflections on the past 2 and a half years in China.

As I write this I am laying down in an abandoned apartment in an unknown town in South Korea. Having spent all day in the saddle, the storm that had been brewing all day finally erupted. I am back on the road. It has been a fairly easy transition. But what of my two and a half years in Dalian. They went so fast, and disappeared even quicker. It was like the whole experience was just  a dream. But the friends, and changes I made are not. So a brief recap… Upon arriving in October 2011, I was still exhausted from my time In Africa. The biggest emotion however was nervousness. I was starting my first ‘proper’ job. Of which I had no practical experience. I took the challenge upon me though, and after a couple of weeks ‘theething’ I become to feel more comfortable in front of a class. For the first few months I was still ‘high’ from the road, and happy to socialize and meet with students. I began a relationship with a student, which was a big no-no. I was still in the zone of being excited by risk and pushing boundary's. So I did. It almost backfired as the relationship was short lived. From that  point of I started to question my actions more seriously. I was hurting people but not really aware of it. I needed to change. Also around this time I found something special. Yoga. After playing football with some mates I woke the next day sore. At the gym I noticed they had Yoga, so thought it might help. I still remember the first class. Being unable to sit comfortably for even 5 mins with a straight back. Not being able to touch my toes. I thought I was in good condition. I was wrong. I continued going. Firstly 4 times a week. Then 5. Before long I was going everyday day, on my days off sometimes attending 3 or 4 classes in a day. I was hooked. I made friends with the Indian teacher there, Malik. Our friendship developed in the coming years and upon leaving it was him, who my heart felt the heaviest for. My body was changing which was great, but so was my mind. I done a 7 day Juice fast. Before I knew it I wasn’t going to bars anymore (which I did once a week upon arriving) having a class of red after work, or even eating as much meat as I used to. I was amazed at the effortless change. I didn’t try to change. Through my Yoga practice these things seemed meaningless now. My routine and habits were as good as they had ever been. Through Yoga (and partly because of past mistakes, and Chinese culture) I decided to make more serious decisions about my relationships. Marriage is always in the forefront of a Chinese girls mind. Upon arriving, I was unaware of this. Now I had no excuses. I was always very honest from this point on. I wasn’t looking to marry, and couldn’t think about it before we started dating. This was unfortunate as I had strong feelings for one girl, and seriously considered if I could stay and be involved in a serious relationship. Upon deciding to continue my saving and dream of taking Stella on the road, it was then that I realized. I’m simply not ready. Love can be a scary thing when you’re not ready for it. Marrying into Chinese culture is not easy. You’re essentially marrying 3 things. The woman, the family and the country.  Not for me. Not yet at least. With my Yoga practice deepening I became more and more withdrawn. I found Yoga gives you a sense of not needing anything else. If I done my practice for the day I was happy. It got me through those tough days where I missed my family, the road, etc... During my spell in China I also took two visits back home to see my family. First was in 2012 for Christmas. I travelled back to the UK. It was only for a week, but it was great nonetheless to catch up with my family and a few friends. The following year I went back to Australia, the first time in six years, to stay with my sister and her husband, who had just bought a house. It was great to be back home, and I had a new sense of appreciation for Australian, something which I had never had in the past. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. After returning back from Australia, I only had four months left until I finished work. I had to leave in Spring so the weather would be acceptable for Siberia and Central Asia. Those last months went amazingly fast and before I knew it I was getting ‘on stage’ for my final class. I had a great time working at NDI. Sure there were frustrating days, but for the most part, each day was enjoyable and interesting. I made some real friends there. Some which will always be in my heart, regardless of where I am. With one month left I decided to do a short travel, to see some good friends. I travelled to Dali to visit my former girlfriend from Pakistan in 2007. Many years had passed, however we still had a good friendship and honest understanding of each other. Next was Hangzhou to visit Doris. My closest Chinese friend. We had been through a lot together. As mentioned before, she was my student. I hurt her. She hurt me. But still in the end, without going into too much detail we remained  good friends and could tell each other everything. It was sad saying goodbye to her, but she has a bright future ahead. Back in Dalian for a final two hectic weeks of goodbyes. After having said so many goodbyes in the past my heart has almost become cold. I often feel nothing. Im aware of this, and don’t think its good. I guess though, you know who your true friends are when your heart feels sadness when saying goodbye. I had developed a good relationship with my Indian friends. Most Fridays I would go downtown to Maliks house and simply sit, talk and eat lunch. We would talk Yoga, politics, philosophy and much more. In the last few months Deepak, and ‘Dr.’ both fellow Yogis would join. I will miss my Indian friends. With all my goodbyes done I just had a few errands to get organized before departing. Alice, another close friend helped me greatly during the last days. We shared many a conversation together and also could talk to each other about anything. So Its quite hard to sum up two and a half years of your life in a blog post. I have missed out many things, and not mentioned many people. I guess though what I have taken from experience in China  is firstly, to be honest; Yoga. It has changed my life, and made me a better person. Second is all the great people I have met, who without, my time would have been dull and boring, and thirdly is my teaching experience. I enjoyed the challenge initially, towards the end I could do every class with my eyes closed, hence the challenged faded. I have started my next adventure. I want to persue my dream to become a Yoga teacher, and hope to maintain my practice, however first a few thousands miles on my ‘Stella’ are in order.  

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2 Responses to “Reflections on the past 2 and a half years in China.”

  1. rlovell
    May 30, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Great read Sam. Enjoy your trip and stay safe. Dad

  2. November 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    Hi Sam this is Malik from India.hope you will be fine and happy.I don’t know where you are at present and what are you doing.I read you article which you have written about your time in China.it’s good and fully honest presentation.I didn’t leave anything man.there are something in life you need to think and experience than you can choose right and wrong.for realization of it you need to create some boundaries around of you.boundaries of introspection,boundaries of way of thinking if you don’t have all this you may not be able to think right and wrong.you need to think in philosophical way to achieve truth which is ultimate goal of human.in my case it is.I can’t force a person to accept my views but I can manage myself to approach for right.hope you will be on right track.God bless you.

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