I called Hangzhou home for more than ten months, and when I think back at that time, I always smile. I have so many happy memories related to it. There were difficult moments, sad days and some tears, but when I closed the door of my room for the last time, all the sadness was reminding me how good my time there had been.
The funny thing is that most of the memories I have could have taken place anywhere.What make them special are mostly the people I met, who decided to share that part of their life with me, making my days full and my nights fun. This is the reason why I will never stop encouraging people to move, no matter where. The actual destination is only a more or less beautiful framework of the life one is building in the new place.
Hangzhou is a weird city. It is way too big to be fully explored, and probably not even worth it, but it hides funny spots. For example, Tianducheng, or Little Paris. a luxury real estate development Paris look-alike. The development is more or less abandoned, with a ghost-town feel relieved only by the floods of photographers and couples shooting their wedding pictures. This was one of my favourite “only in China”.
Hangzhou is famous for the West Lake (Xihu 西湖), a well deserved fame, although always very crowded. It’s part of it, I guess, and the area is still beautiful. I have been there different times, with different purposes. Small walks in the afternoon, some sport on an early morning, the Impression West Lake show (must-see) at night, and I have to say, it is beautiful. Nothing less.
I am looking forward for the day I will be back in Hangzhou. It will be amazing to walk around and bump into all the places where I was.
The campus library, where I learnt that Chinese people can sleep at any time and everywhere.
My favourite restaurants in front of the dorms, ready with our orders before we could even ask for it.
The Family Mart next to the 北门 (beimen, north gate), open 24/7. The stairs in front of it witnessed never-ending chats at night.
Vineyard, Coco bars and all the pubs, bars and clubs which hosted our craziness.
The small park inside Xixi campus, the best place for a shining sun and a guitar.
26 years. This is how long it took me, all my time so far, to understand who I am, and my life in China gave me the kick-off call to seriously start reasoning about myself. And this is what I found out: I cannot live on the surface. I throw myself into things, friendships, work, study, no matter what we are talking about, I cannot just let things flow, but I get into them with all myself. This is why I get hurt often, but this is the only way I love living. For a long time I tried to convince myself that I was one of those cool people who can surf over the events, touching everything but without being touched. I am not. I get deeply involved in everything I do, and if I am not, it is because I don’t care. And this is true especially when it comes to people. I will always fight, if I think it is worth it. I might not be an easy surrender.
This is what China helped me to understand, and that I will never forget.