I am on a ramshackle roof as night is falling upon Yangshuo China. The undulating mountain forms that dominate my 360 degree view in the daytime are just foggy ghosts now. Dragons, arching their backs in sleep. Just above the murky forms I can see a few stars.
This is a beautiful and strange place. I come here to our hostel’s roof often, where I can see a patchwork of shingled roofs laid out in front of me like foothills. But when the sun goes down it becomes unbearably cold.
In China, the cold never really seems to go away. There are space-heaters to heat the air in a room if you so choose, but otherwise, there is no central heating to add comfort to the concrete buildings. Running inside to warm myself is laughable. Once indoors, my coat never moves from my shoulders and my scarf stays tightly wound around my neck and nose.
Beautiful as it is, I just want some comfort.
I just want some warmth.
China is full of wild and wonderful experiences and bright-faced, smiling people. It is full of towering, limestone shapes from years of rainwater washing the softer soil of an ancient plateau away. It is full of lazy rivers and the water buffalo that graze just beyond them.
But it has no comfort.
And it has no warmth.
For these reasons, I think China was a good place to start our trip. I am still trying to learn the blaring difference between vacationing and traveling. There is part of me that expects that I can coast from country to country relaxing and sight-seeing. In reality though, this is my new lifestyle for awhile. I am not here to shut down. I am here to keep thinking: keep learning: keep doing.
China does not feel like a vacation. China feels like a place to learn and think and do.
In the cold air above a cold city, I remember this. When the mountains are tucked away behind the black of nightfall, I remember that now is not the time to spend a day soaking up the sun on a beach.
I am here to grow.