Forget Paris, Chengdu is the most romantic city in in the world.
Like authentic romance, not tacky postcards and Facebook updates romance. The subways are always packed full of bustling commuters, it’s impossible not to brush against other bodies, make eye contact, to wonder where the train is taking them, how their day has been. It’s impossible not to feel the connection between fellow Western travelers, exchanging cheeky smiles, shy exchanges of energy, understanding, unsure of whether it would be odd to talk to one another.
Travelers here are real, honest people, people who have left the daily routine and the systematic whir of Western culture, to delve into the unknown, the magic of the cluttered, inconsistent lifestyle of Asia; chaotic but somehow fundamentally balanced even more so than the West. And the locals appear settled in to a busy but contented lifestyle, of hard work and study, family commitments and complicated politics surrounding relationships that I am yet to decipher. I am eager to learn more, hungry for more awkward language clashing until it isn’t awkward any more, excited for the next time someone looks at me funny and I wonder if it’s the oversized mask I am wearing or the waves in my light brown hair. The only thing consistent here that I can tell, is the inevitable inconsistency, and what’s more intoxicating than constant, relentless change? It’s keep up or we’ll leave you behind, it’s ride the wave or you’ll sink right back to your comfortable life in the West.
There’s something really humbling, challenging and mystifying about this whole atmosphere and I am falling in love with Chendgu, and China and its people a little more every day.