China Again!

It’s already been over a year since I started this website and blog! My first post on October 27th was on a positive side of fear. I’ve experienced true joy in overcoming the fear of sharing more of my written work. Soon I will share more about my second poetry book coming this fall! This is a project I haven’t shared much about yet, but I am beyond excited (and a little scared) to put this out there.

So come back to hear more about Life Stokes Embers. There are two main differences between my first and second book. 1) My first, Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror, is a chapbook whereas Life Stokes Embers is a full poetry collection and 2) The poems in Life Stokes Embers I wrote for myself, whereas I wrote the poems in Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror for others.

But now, here’s a reflection on my China trip.

Goodbye China, Goodnight 
by Aubri Wilson

Goodbye China, Goodnight

As I fly away too soon

Tears run down rivulets near my nose

And I gaze at the Shanghai coast

Strange it is that less than an hour before

We strolled around the brightly winking Bund

As if travelling in a movie scene




Goodbye China, Goodnight

And Good Morning too

After a very long night

Soon I will wake to

The same morning

In a different land

With the same mourning

As when I left you before

Not knowing how long it may be

Before I return again




Goodbye China, Goodnight

I will dream of what we did

And what we saw

And what we tasted

And how we marveled

And wished for more




Goodbye China, Goodnight

And if I had more time

Oh I wish

And if I did

I would search more ancient gardens

And get lost in bamboo forests

I would ride in another boat

And sit by a hidden spot at Xihu

To write poetry like many before me

I would rise early for a prize of

Steaming doujiang fresh as it comes

I would hike the hills without steps

And visit golden temples in sites

Farther than I’d reached before

I would find the cave

In each mountain of Guilin

And explore verdant paths

Among rice paddies in countryside

I would return to my old schools

To see who has taken my place

I would visit each province

But if not, try the dishes from all

In some larger city like Hangzhou

I would stay until chestnuts roasted

And white sweet potatoes fragranced the streets

And yet until lychee and longan

Fill up the markets

And if I had more time

Well, enough

I will hope to come

To see you soon

It’s hard to describe the feeling of returning to a foreign country you fell in love with years before. And it was so much fun to introduce my husband to things I loved and even the things I didn’t quite love about China. We visited Shanghai and Hangzhou, two large cities I had never set foot in before so it was new for both of us. In Hangzhou I was able to reunite with my old friend Kris, who I met during my English teaching orientation back in 2012. We were able to study Mandarin together in Yangshuo (at least in classrooms next door to each other) that summer. If you’re interested in travel in China, she is one to learn from. Go check out her YouTube channel, Imbibing China for great content on adventures in less touristy areas of the country.

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My husband and I ate loads of noodles (yes, my diet went out the window for nine days), walked until (at least my) feet were sore, boated, biked, took an overnight train, flew on one domestic flight, climbed two mountains, explored two caves, cruised down the Li river in rainy weather and made memories we’ll never forget. I was struck by a sense of familiarity with several things-the sound of the Mandarin language and people complimenting me on my pronunciation with the very few words I could speak, being served whole fish with head and eyeballs intact, breathing in polluted air, groups of ladies doing synchronized dance in public, being stared at and laughed at, calls of “Huān yíng, huān yíng!” when entering restaurants or businesses etc.

What smacked my sensibilities overwhelmingly were advances in technology. In my previous time in China, all of my students used QQ for online communication. Now, the masses use WeChat, an app that my husband and I were unable to download even with the Chinese SIM card we purchased in the Shanghai Pu Dong International Airport. WeChat enables not only chatting, but paying for things like soda from vending machines, your meal in a restaurant, bus fare or a DiDi (China’s Uber). Cash is used much less and not even an option in many cases. AliPay is another rival payment option. We also couldn’t help but notice the cameras on every corner and wonder about the social credit system that will soon spread to all of China. If you haven’t heard about this fascinating and globally concerning system, check out this informative article (complete with surprising infographics).

China is growing and changing rapidly. In Yangshou, a small county where my former employer is still headquartered, West Street, the pedestrian street of shops, clubs, bars and beautiful architecture, is now joined by a new West Street with a mall. Yet with all the change, I found my employer’s office, still the same, and the countryside still beautified by the farmers, in this season by flowers they planted after the rice harvest. And still happy couples taking wedding photos don traditional clothing from favorite dynasties long, long ago. We were lucky to take part in a session with an old friend who was married the week before we arrived!

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