My father is a sailor, though my country doesn’t have any seaside.
I was twelve, when me and my mother joined him on a trip, back in 1989, when this country changed clothes, things happened, like never before, and I missed all of this.
Where were we then, instead of our nice little village beyond my country’s biggest hill? We just left the three little creeks behind, and headed the seven seas.
Started at Rotterdam (arrived on plane), passed Casablanca (my first disillusioning Christmas at summer weather), Ust-Dunaisk in Ukraine, sailed the Channel of Suez and after a month on the ocean, with so much nausea and dullness, the ship arrived in Japan.
It was truly shocking for a little girl from the former socialist area, facing that modernity, technocracy, so many shops and things to buy, hot/cold drink automats at every corner, it was absolutely the future of that time.
Then came China… I knew nothing about this country, only that the coloured pencils and pandas come from there, but Iwanted one thing desperately- to visit the Great Wall.
First stop was Tien Chin. First impression was – so this is China? Looks like Russia. And everyone is staring at us!
We looked so non-chinese, our hair, skin, especially the eyes! I’ll never forget this, walking down the streets, with every single face and every eyes turning towards me. They didn’t say a word, or come closer, just stared.
Remember the film Inception? When you’re in someone’s dream, and soon everybody starts looking at you… it was like that.
I’ve never had experience of being different, being the minority before.
After this harbour, came Dalian, the most busy port at that time, I think. We didn’t have much time, to wonder in these towns. Our territory covered what was near the industrial areas of the port.
Not very impressive.
The ship loaded magnesit, it flaked everything, like snow, the yellow see under us was truly yellow, from loess, and on the streets, there was this sugar-covered, little red berries on stick, never knew the name, I wasn’t allowed to eat one, but still clearly imagine, how it looked like.
Dalian, and first of all Zhanjiang was so different, I started to feel real China, it was Asia indeed, the way you read, see it on films, but for real. It was alive, people cooking and eating on the street, funny, unkown things, and they flocked around you, if you stopped to buy peanuts, what was really cheap.
We were heading from north to south, and the distance between me and the Great Wall, grew bigger and bigger.Sad, but it seems, I missed my chance, beeing so close to it, and just couldn’t make it. Father told me, maybe the crew will hire a bus, and make the ride, but it never happened. The same thing happened to the desert, in Morocco.
The ship left, sailed to Spain, and closed the circle at Rotterdam, we flew home, and on the road I lost the little jade turtle, I bought back in Tsingtao.
Anyway, this journey gave me planty of things, expanded my horizone so it’s might not rightful, to concentrate on things, that doesn’t happen.
The big changes of society and economy has passed. Now everyone can travel where he or she wants, In Hungary, people can buy everything, if they have the money, even chinese food is available at every market.
Now, 25 years later, looking back, I guess China also must be very different.
But the Wall remained the same, and that my father is still working on cargo ships.