After an overwhelming experience at the Hangzhou train station (which felt more like an airport terminal, but without any English anywhere), we finally boarded the bullet train. This train went up to about 330km/hr— around 205mph!!!! So, the train from Hangzhou to Shanghai was only about an hour long… and we even got to sit down!
I am feeling incredibly grateful for the friends I have made on this trip. Without Marc (and his Mandarin), I would not have been able to hold it together commuting back and forth to “West Lake Prosperity Tennis Camp.” Without Ben and Susan, I would not be sitting in this lovely hotel room writing in my blog. They not only put up with me tagging along, but offered for me to join them. I am so, so thankful.
Today we had a western breakfast in the hotel (eggs, hash browns, toast, etc… complete with hot sauce, Adam!) and then went over to the Ritz for an afternoon drink. I have never been to a Ritz before, and I doubt I’ll ever be at one again, so this was a pretty cool experience. The view from our table was the city- and the buildings on buildings on buildings went so far off into the distance that you couldn’t see where it ended. (Check out my Insta or Facebook below for the picture!)
It’s a pretty crazy feeling to look at this view and think about just how many people are in this world. That behind every window in every building is a man putting on his clothes, or a child learning to tie his shoes, or a woman writing in her blog. There are so many people in this world that we will never know or understand, but keep in the back of our minds their existence.
As I sit here and reflect, I understand the weight this trip has had on my mental health. It has pushed me in ways I did not expect. It has made me cry for reasons I had forgotten. It has made me angry with people who couldn’t understand my anger. But what it has also given me is a new-found confidence to explore the world totally alone. To make friends with people of all ages and backgrounds. To ask strangers for help when I’m afraid.
So my last entry was super negative. And a lot of the time I have spent alone here I have felt negative, and a lot of that is warranted. But I guess what I want you all to know is that, as eager as I am to get home, I am thankful for the growth I have experienced here: Endurance, Perseverance, and Resilience.
Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog, and thanks to everyone who has reached out. You’ve all made me feel so much closer to home.
And Ben and Susan, if you’re reading this, thanks for bringing me to Shanghai and letting me end this trip on a good note :)