I’m saying ‘that’, but surely, I should say ‘those’ – those places not far from us where we’ve never been. Of course, there’s too many of those places, so I think I should add a clause, and speak of these places where, according to every logic, we should have been at least once.
But we haven’t been there, not once.
For instance, Beijing Zoo, I’ve never been there.
My daughter has grown up a lot recently, she can walk very well, even run sometimes. When the weather is nice and I spend time with her, we often see the dog of our compound. Every time she sees the dog, she lifts her little fingers and says ‘huh’. I love listening to her little shout of surprise, that’s the amazing instinct of curiosity that children have for things of interest, and for her, seeing a little dog, that’s of the highest interest. So I told my wife, I need to find time to go to the zoo with our daughter, there’s so many animals there, tiger, monkey, elephant, giraffe, she won’t stop saying ‘huh’.
Every time we talk about this, I’ll probably add: oh yay, by the way, I’ve never been to the zoo.
I don’t know why I’ve never been, there would have been opportunities, but in the end, I didn’t go, and there have been many similar places in my life. Maybe I was born lacking the desire to go places, which is why I also don’t like travelling. To me, going somewhere and back is meaningless.
I only went to the Forbidden City nine years after moving to Beijing, which is incredible – it would be the first place most people go. In 2009, after I got married back home, older people from both families came to Beijing with me and my wife, and we took turns to show them around the city. I took four older people to the Forbidden City, but if it hadn’t been for them, I think I still would never have gone.
Another example is the Summer Palace. Around 2006, while I was studying for my Masters, I got a job teaching Chinese to foreigners. One of my students was a Korean woman, and one of my duties was to accompany her to the Summer Palace. She didn’t understand Chinese, but she could speak English. My English was average, but we could manage with body language. And that’s when I finally got to this place not far from me where I had never been, the Summer Palace.
I’ve thought about it carefully, and it’s not that I don’t want to go to those places, it’s just that I don’t like rushing, but if you let me go somewhere and live for two or three months, I’ll go anywhere. Whatever the place, living there, preferably just walking around the streets with nothing to do, or go to a restaurant and order some food, or have a chat with the sunshine, that’s what I’m satisfied with.
There are too many place where we should go at least once, yet have never been.
I’m thinking, these places are more important than the places we have been, so why haven’t we visited them? There’s places where we don’t go for a long time, a restaurant, a shop, a cafe, a beauty salon, even a small room in our house, there are too many places which only exist, we know that they’re there, but we can’t find a point of contact with them.