Jamaican in China: Life in Xishuangbanna (part 1)

Travel | by Walt Goodridge
Posted: November 19th, 2010 | Updated: April 2nd, 2011 | Comments
Walt Goodridge, Jamaican in China In this first of a three-part series, Beijing to China's sunny south and the balmy warmth of Xishuangbanna. A tropical paradise more usually experienced as a backpacker stop en route to neighboring Myanmar, Laos or Thailand, Walt invites us to join him in getting away from the tourist trail and living from a local perspective, as he sets up home in the capital Jinghong. Over to you, Walt! >>> "I am not now, nor have I ever been a tourist." As I mentioned in my ChinaTravel interview:

"When I visit a new place, my goal is NOT to be a tourist. The goal is to blend in to normal, everyday life and experience what it's like to be one of the local folk. So, I typically don't do or write about the touristy things that others do. I walk around the city and explore each neighborhood by taking commuter buses from terminus to terminus. I shop in the local stores and open markets not the tourist malls. I'm not too much into snapping photos at the usual attractions. I take photos of friendly people or ill-named sex shops (you'll have to check the China Blogger Spotlight: A Jamaican in China and "nomadpreneur" Walt Goodridge lives his dream.)

My journey to China is not a quest for scenic spots, sacred edifices, tall temples, big Buddhas, or even great walls. It's not a diversion to snap photos, rush through guided tours and then return to a regular life—there is no "regular life" for me to return to. No job. No time card. No contracts. This is it. There's just me and my mood, my passion and my preferences, my desires and my dreams.... [cue music:]

"When your heart gets restless, time to move along When your heart gets weary, time to sing a song But when a dream is calling you, There's just one thing that you can do Well, you gotta follow that dream wherever that dream may lead..."

—"Follow That Dream," by Elvis Presley, 1962; (One of my favorite songs at age 10)

The "dream" is simply to find a place that I can be comfortable enough to live roughly the same life I would live anyplace else. I wander, I wish, I watch and I write. I contemplate, I crave, I cook and I clean. I live, I learn and I love, just like everybody else. And if I can do all that in a nice environment that meets a few requirements, then so much the better. Those requirements are pretty simple, really: heat, sunshine, internet access and a kitchen. (Not necessarily in that order of importance.) That's really pretty much it. Of course, there are "deal-breakers" to any specific location: cigarette smoke, pollution, crowds, etc., but those four—heat, sun, internet and a kitchen—are my non-negotiables. So, mine is NOT a travel blog. Since I consider myself a "teacher," in the broadest sense of the word, I use my blog to share ideas. It is a blog about lifestyle choices, about courage, about freedom. It is here (like me) to make a point. It is used to show a different option and different possibilities. As you enjoy the highlights and details of my simple life, know that, like you, I am living life doing the daily things that I do. And, like you, me and everyone else, the best of life is not blogged. Not blogged are the warm smiles, the kind gestures, the tender touches, and the little interactions and sweet words that get etched on the walls of our minds and create the memories that we carry for a lifetime. What you can never experience through my blog are the feelings that living this dream are allowing me to experience. Those are mine alone. Mine alone because this dream is a personal dream. But, the GREAT thing about coming along with me on this journey is that you can use your imagination to place yourself in these settings and situations right along with me—in the planes, in the buses, in the hotel rooms, in the apartments (um, no smoking, please). You can use my life as a metaphor for your own imaginings. You can dream along with me. Through Jamaican in China, I invite you bring your dreams into the boat with me and together we will row! [cue music:]
"Row, row, row your boat, Gently down the stream, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a dream"

— Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Nursery Rhyme est. 1852, from Wikipedia)

So, with that said, let's head further south in China—to Jinghong—in search of warmer climes: Slideshow:
Check back soon for more from Walt on living in Xishuangbanna, and visit his website Jamaican in China to discover more of his past China adventures.
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