Hobbies have an appreciation period, you might get bored after a while. But there are three things that I will always love, read, travel, and music. There is a saying in Chinese, “读万卷书,行万里路,胸中脱去尘浊,自然丘壑内营,立成鄄鄂。” It means that read as much as you can and go as far as you can, so that you will let go of the dust in your heart and build your own system. Reading is another way of traveling, and traveling is another way of reading. They are conencting me with the world vertically and horizontally.

At this moment I have not explored the world too much, I’ve only been to China and the U.S. When travling alone in China, there are three things that I will definitely do: 1)visit the museum; 2)find a bookstore and read for a whole day; 3)visit one temple.

Museum is a telescope of history where you can get a glimpse of the past. History of the greater China is heavy, which I am proud of and interested in. Different region has different developing history, which gives rise to different cultures and traditions. For example, museums of those cities that used to be the capital usually have the emperor’s burial pieces collection, which is of great value and can reflect the dynasty. In China, the museum of the capital of the province usually collects heritage of different dynasties. Connecting the stories behind these artifacts reveals the history of this place. Visiting the museum is like walking through the life of the city/province, and usually gives me a deeper understanding of the unique local culture.

I love crowds, usually. Talking with different people gives me an opportunity to explore different kinds of life. Everyone is a unique story. But when traveling, I always set aside one day to be silent in a bookstore. Reading in a strange city feels like I am on the edge of the world. I can hear all the noise on the street, laugh, screaming, honking. I can see all the faces with different looks, indifferent, smile, angry. But all these have nothing to do with me, the only thing that matters is the book in my hand. There is no one that I know of, and there is nothing I have to do. This moment is about reading. Reading is like talking with the author, but in a silent way. I don’t usually find someone who enjoys reading as well now, people seem to be more into their phones. I am grateful for these people who are still willing to run a bookstore. It’s definitely not the best way to make money, but they are still doing it.

It might be a little bit weird to list “visiting a temple” as a must-do. I don’t really have a religion, and religion is not the reason why I do it. The history of buddism is longer than Christianity in China, and the Buddhism has more followers than Christianity. That’s why I usually visit a temple instead of a church in China. In the U.S., it makes more sense for me to visit churches. The environment in the temple makes me feel peaceful, inside and out. The smell of the sandalwood and the rhythm of the sutras clear the dust in my mind. I see people praying for different things. Some are going through really difficult times, their tears are the crystallization of their wishes, their eyes are like the stars in the midnight. I hear what people love and care about, and it’s vibrating. Their wishes are usually about life, love, and career, and they are interwined. I hear lots of people praying for someone whose life that is coming to an end, usually is their family, and saying that they are willing to exchange with all their money and everything else. Lots of the devotees do not even know how to read, but they believe in every word in the sutras. Hearing people’s praying is looking at their inside wounds. Temple is a gathering place for human vulnerability. I’ve seen all sorts of human suffering to be more grateful for what I have.

Those are three things that I always do when traveling alone in China. I’m trying to connect with the world, from the perspective of time, human, and civilization. Through this way, I can build my own inner operating system, and find my own small corner in this vast world.