My niece Joanna is a nomad by heart. Like me, she has ventured on budget trips and backpacking adventures that would always leave her mom asking why. If I could pick a good decade for her, it would be the 60s. She could be a hippie kid, traveling from one place to another, blasting Janis Joplin from her boom box. When I asked her to go to Laos with me 2 years ago, she responded, “I want to go to China.”
I thought it was a brilliant idea. It made me think of finally setting foot on not just a HUGE country, but one of the countries that fascinated me ever since I was a kid.
Back in the 80s, my Sunday ritual would be sitting in front of the TV to watch a morning Chinese soap opera. What made it different from western soaps was the Kung-Fu involved in almost every scene. That show, along with a cooking show that featured an old Chinese lady with curly hair, made me think of China as one of the countries with an intangible heritage. Hollywood movies that I’ve seen such as Drunken Master, The Last Emperor, Hero, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, among many, also gave epic visuals of China’s charm.
And of course, there’s Zhao Wei, China’s #1 actress who graced movies such as Shaolin Soccer, So Close, Painted Skin, Love, and the classic, Hua Mulan with her beauty and versatility. Name me a fan who wouldn’t want to see Wei’s motherland?
I’ve planned my trip to China and read about the country. I even bought a Lonely Planet book to guide me in my journey.
Then the Scarborough Shoal dispute erupted. I recently communicated with a Filipino who lives in Guangzhou to know about the situation, and he said they’re mum about it as they might lose their jobs. But they’re not positive about everything that’s happening. In fact, some of them have stopped buying local goods.
The news headlines have not been helpful as well:
PH denounces China for ‘bullying’ tactics
Global Pinoys to rally at Chinese consulates
Taking shoal dispute to int’l court will only complicate matters – China
Meanwhile, my family and close friends are a bit apprehensive:
Sister: Don’t go.
Brother: Well, decide a day before you finally purchase your ticket. You can always visit China again.
Friend 1: Hmm, you have to wait and see if it’s safe.
Friend 2: Don’t go. Let it die down, then go. You can always visit China again.
They say we all have one life to live, and that we should seize the day. But seizing the day doesn’t mean being stupid. The news may exaggerate, but these things do come from a source one way or another. Besides, I “can always visit China again”, as my loved ones would say. Traveling is NEVER about the places one has been to. It’s about the experience.
I still have a few weeks to go before I finally decide. I still want to go to China, but if this entire territorial
pissing brouhaha escalates, it might pose a threat to my safety. It’s not like I can say I’ll avoid Beijing and stay in Kunming because it’s safer; it’s the entire nation against mine. For now, all I can do is wait and hope for the best.
Why can’t people just get along
What a world it would be
If we could all just have fun
‘Cause it don’t do nobody right
When it comes down to a fight hey
Why can’t people just get along
– David Lee Murphy
What do you think? Should I still go to China?