Thursday, July 17, 2008

'Xièxie' for reading this

Often the small kindnesses that we encounter along our way are exactly what we need to fulfil our destinies.

I am reminded of this while taking a walk along the Long Corridor at the Summer Palace in Beijing. It's an open air walkway with a roof to keep out the summer drizzle. From here the scenery changes from lazy boats and water lilies on my left to traditional Chinese palace buildings on the right. It is the largest painted corridor in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records - and a lovely place for reflection.

The locals seem to think so too, judging by the amount of Chinese spending the day here at leisure. It's possible to watch shows in some of the palace buildings, go for a boat ride and have Chinese food and drinks at the market style outlets. Again, the prices are not inflated, which makes even the tourist experience here so much more authentic.

The Long Corridor paintings are fascinating. I stop to read up about them in a book that I found at the souvenir shop. The painting right above me depicts the story of Han Xin who became one of the founders of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.). When Han Xin was young, he was only committed to studying and practicing martial arts. Apart from some fishing he had no real means of earning a living. A laundry lady shared her meals with him freely for as long as he needed her kindness. Later, as the Marquis of Huaiyin, he went looking for this old lady to repay her kindness with a thousand pieces of gold.

There are over 8000 paintings to be found on the Long Corridor, which is 728 metres long. Some of these cover history, myths and legends while others are delicate or whimsical depictions of birds, flowers and pristine landscapes from a bygone era. The Summer Palace was first built in 1750, then burnt down during British and French invasions before being rebuilt in 1886. So much history and yet this age old story reminds me of how many people played a role in helping me find a way to live as a writer and traveller.

Have I said thank you to the people who helped me along? Perhaps not enough. Let me start with you – 'xièxie' (Mandarin for 'thank you') for reading and for leaving comments on this blog. Your growing interest and support is worth a thousand pieces of gold.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing and sharing the adventure. I enjoy reading and taking down tips for my own travels. Petra

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your adventures - I love reading your blog!! Charlotte