Today I have dubbed the day of suffering. But I learned a lot from it.
The slight ticket I had felt in my throat the night before had turned into the beginnings of some kind of illness. I woke up slightly terrified that I was getting strep throat again… the disease that has plagued my life thus far… Talking about it makes me cringe. I’ve gotten it more times that I can count in my life and it’s always been pretty severe. I compare it to the feeling of swallowing glass 24 hours a day for a few days.
Anyway enough about that! The illness had me feeling quite tired and un-rested in the morning, but luckily the only plans for the morning was getting home from HK. We picked up Simons visa which had been delayed until the morning and then headed to the ferry. I tried my best to feel friendly and inspired but I just couldn’t do it. The bad start to the morning and the constant irritation by my intense tiredness just had me feeling negative. I was still friendly to people but it takes more than responding to people in a friendly way to create anything awesome.
We got on the ferry home and nothing eventful happened. We got ripped off on the cab ride home as it’s impossible to get a normal price or a meter when taking cabs from the ferry. After arriving home I decided I needed to do something to make me feel better. I remembered I had brought with me a dvd of a Qi Gong practice. I hadn’t used it in months but I remembered how following along to it made me feel better when I was sick in the past. Plus I was in china, the place Qi Gong comes from.
Qi Gong is almost similar to meditation and tai chi but different from both. It is a series of technique to manipulate your body’s energy or Qi (chi) for the purpose of healing. Whether you believe in Qi or not it’s very easy to feel your body’s energy when you do these techniques, you can literally feel yourself moving your energy around. The techniques are used to renew your energy, remove any energy blockages and generally heal pain and sickness. I was feeling pretty miserable before doing about 45 minutes of the Qi Gong but after completing it I felt really good. It’s amazing how I had tried this before but forgot how awesome it made me feel. How well it actually helps you recover from sickness I’m not sure yet, but what I do know is that it gives you an excellent boost of energy and feeling of well being.
This night I was scheduled to teach at the Nanhai campus for our schools. It was the first time I had taught in a few months so I was excited to get back into it and start making some money again. At 3:30 I went over to the Shunde school to ask Angela the best way to get to Nanhai. I think if you drive straight to nanhai it takes about 40 minutes, so I figured 1.5-2 hours would be plenty of time to get there by bus. Angela told me though that taking a bus to Nanhai wasn’t as simply and I might not get there until 6:00. Since I was teaching at 6:30 this was a little troublesome, there’s nothing I would hate more than being late for my first class of part time teaching. I hate being late in generally but especially when the school is depending on me to teach students. I decided I’d be safe and skip lunch so I could make it there with lots of time. Instead I quickly grabbed a banana and an apple for the ride.
I was feeling good until now but this is when things started to go bad. I was going to be spending a couple night in nanhai so I was carrying 2 bags and a large plastic case containing a comforter (since they didn’t have extra blankets in nanhai) I had gotten good directions from Angela but was confused about the starting location for the bus. As I was walking towards where I thought I was supposed to take the bus I saw a sign for the 318 which I was supposed to get on. It made sense that the bus would turn from the main area to take the bus from down this street so I decided id go to the main area and get the bus from there, that way I could ask people if it was right, if I was on the right side of the street ect. When i arrived at the right area though there was no 318. I showed people where I wanted to go and they said I could also take the 312 from the same spot. I motioned to them that I was going to go back to the 318 but then said no no no then told me to come with them to another station which definitely had the right bus for me. For some reason I listened to them and followed them. I thought they were taking me to the next stop within view up the street but we ended up walking for what seemed like 10 more minutes with each passing minute making me more worried that I was going to be late.
When we finally arrived at the other station which was supposed to be perfect for where I wanted to go it had the exact same bus numbers as the last one, they simply pointed to the 312 again and told me to take that. At this point I was really mad, why would they take me from one 312 to another? Why didn’t I just go back to the 318? At this point it had been about 25 minutes since I was supposed to board the bus so I was really worried about being late. To make matters worse when the 312 finally arrived it was full and drove right by us! This caused me to freak out even more, now id be late for sure. I told the lady I’d just get a motorbike into town but she said not to as the next bus would take me really close. I trusted her and got on the bus but then it drove past the city I was supposed to go to. This seemed a big surprise for the lady and she told me to get off the bus and take the 304 back to where I wanted to go. There was no way I was getting on another crazy bus not knowing where it was headed so I spent another 5 minutes finding a taxi. At this point I was really stressed out, I didn’t want to waste money on a taxi and I figured I was going to be late for class for sure, and I still hadn’t eaten. I think I was most stressed out by how stupid I had been to listen to the people who directed me the wrong ways, if I had simply gone back to the 318 I would have been at the station 30 minutes ago. The thought of being late was really bothering me as I was depending on this work to keep my finances going for the next while. Eventually the taxi got me to the station where I’d take the 1 long bus into nanhai.
At the station I walked up to the information desk and asked which bus I needed to get to nanhai. The lady told me to turn right around the corner. I was like turn right then what? And she said just turn right. After turning right around the corner I saw a line of about 20 bus stations all with unreadable Chinese characters. I looked around for a while for someone to help but there was no one. I saw a bunch of people pointing at the confused foreigner and it was really bothering me. I went back to the desk and found another lady this time pretending I spoke no Chinese and just pointing to the character Angela had written for me. She decided to be super awesome and guide me all the way to where I needed to stand for the bus, it was a nice relief. The bus came about 10 minutes after.
While sitting on the bus I figured I might make it only about 5 minutes late. I noticed my hands were shaking partly due to the mental freak-out I was having, partly because of the adrenalin of walking so fast with all my bags and half because I hadn’t eaten since 9 am. I ate my banana but then noticed my apple was covered in dirt. I scraped off as much dirt and ate as much of it as I could but I only got about half of it. The best news of the day came when the manager from the school called to see where I was. I explained my situation and she arranged for me to be picked up at my next stop the Walmart, that way I didn’t have to wait for the final bus and could cut down my travel time by about 15 minutes. I felt like I would make it on time and calmed down a bit. Nearing the 45 minute mark of my hour long bus ride, I asked someone how far away Walmart was and they told me it was still 30 minutes away. I figured that would allow me to get there at about 6:20. My relaxation was interrupted though when we hit a massive traffic jam, we barely moved for the next 10 minutes. I called Tina and told her what happened, she had me pass the phone to a china person to find out exactly how far Walmart was from this point. To my absolutely shock they told Tina I had passed Walmart already and had just made it out of the city of Nanhai. This blew my mind as 15 minutes ago I was told it was still 30 minutes to go, and we hadn’t moved all that much in the last 10. Tina told me to get off the bus and find another taxi.
I gathered my things and made it off the bus as soon as I could communicate that’s what I wanted which took a while. I was in a strange desolate very dark area of china with only 1 lane of traffic passing the other way. It took about another 10 minutes before a motorbike drove by that I could flag down. After getting the motorbike I reached for my phone to get Tina to translate the address of the school to him but my phone was gone. I always put my phone back in my left jeans pocket but it wasn’t there. I frantically searched my other pockets but couldn’t find it. I figured I must have dropped it out of my pocket in my super distress about missing my stop and gathering my things to get off the bus. It dawned at me in that moment that I was absolutely screwed. I was in another country, in a city I had never been in, without any knowledge of where to go or what to do, nobody to call for help, no way to get to my job starting in 15 minutes, and no way to get home. I was completely beaten and distraught I had no idea what to do. The thought of sleeping on the streets in china definitely popped into my mind. I decided to take the motorbike to the other place I knew how to say to go, Nanhai plaza, I hoped I would see the Walmart along the way. I was all sweaty and gross at this point and my jacket was undone and I couldn’t do it up with the things in my hands on the bike and I started to freeze and shiver in the wind and it was one of the absolute lowest moments of my life. I was going to probably lose my part time job, Tina was waiting for me at Walmart and I would never show up, and I had no idea what I was going to do from here.
As we were riding I felt with my elbow something in a strange jacket pocket, I yelled for the driver to pull over for a second. I jumped off the bike and threw all my stuff to the ground, the amount of relief I felt when I found the phone in a weird jacket pocket was unbelievable. I immediately called Tina and instead of meeting them at Walmart got taken straight to the school. The motorbike stepped on it and we arrived a little while after. Upon arriving I paid the driver and looked at my watch. It was 6:35 I was only 5 minutes late. I ran up the stairs to the school and dropped all my stuff off at the front desk. I brought my laptop with the book and lesson plan in it to the class. I was still shaking from the cold and lack of food when I walked in the room. I’m pretty sure my TA thought I was insane and my students were quite scared of me at first! My TA turned out to be amazing though as after I did an intro activity she had prepared Christmas cards for the kids to color to allow me to chill out for a good 15 minutes. I was quite grateful.
I realized at this point that I had learned a lot from the day. I learned I needed to start taking better care of myself, these frequent late nights and early mornings had taken an obvious toll on my system and contributed to me getting sick. I thought about how the day before I could have went and saw a beautiful area of Hong Kong and had some truly inspired experiences but instead I wasted the day and lots of money gambling and drinking. I looked back at the day and the only time I had felt good was when I did Qi Gong and realized how important this kind of thing was to me. I decided I wanted to start being healthier, drinking more water, and eating more fruit. It can be a lot of fun having crazy parties into the morning from time to time but the suffering I caused myself when I needed to wake up early over and over really wasn’t worth it. I also learned a need to be more prepared for certain things. I realized I couldn’t depend on my phone to call people for help in case I ever lost it, now I carry a piece of paper in my wallet with different numbers on it. I also learned not to give up on things until they are over. If at any point I had of given in to not being able to make it to class I might not have been able to get there when I did. My final lesson was that its not always best to listen to what the locals say, even though they live here and they should know what they are talking about, its best to still trust your own judgment when possible.
The message I had my TA pass onto my kids was “Whenever something bad happens, you can take a good lesson out of it.”
Looking back at my intention again I asked to create some unforgettable memories… I guess I forgot to specify if the memories would be positive or negative. All I know is I won’t forget my experience today any time soon!