Mom told me that raining season has started when I was away. So I have missed the beginning of the raining season. Surprisingly I didn’t feel any loss even though I had always been fond of “the beginning of the raining season.”

This morning I woke up to a wet morning in San Francisco. The dripping rain was soft as a velvety cloth. My mind is still not quite back yet. Not willing to settle into a working routine. My mind’s eyes look at everyday occurrence with a startled expression, like a young puppy fascinated by the newness of everything.

Not much has changed since we were away. The gas price has risen, the commute hour traffic is worse, tenant parking in our apartment building is more chaotic, and more people quitting at work and more new faces, too.

Life goes on. I remembered the time when I left for my Ecuador trip in the spring of 2002. I was very closely monitoring the development in Middle East; so not being able to know the daily development of the peace process was making me anxious. Then I met Caroline who had been traveling in South America for eight months. I asked her, did it bother you not being able to monitor the world news closely? She shrugged, not really because usually the news remained the same really. I didn’t believe her at first, but soon I realized she was right. Nothing really changed. Three weeks later after I got back from Ecuador, the Middle East situation remained surprisingly similar to what had been.

Nothing has changed much this time, either. People are still asking the same question they had asked when I was leaving, “Why Turkey?”

I still couldn’t really answer it.

Probably the reasoning for me was half romance, half curiosity –romantic because Istanbul sounds so exotic, curious because I had never been to a Muslim country.

I’m glad that I went. I’m also growing wary that as one travels to more and more places, one’s future travel choices grew smaller and smaller.

“The essence of travel is to slow the passage of time.” Robert Kaplan said.

Yet, everywhere I went, I felt the futility of traveler’s attempt. The old town of each glorious city was like the small grain of sand that was left in one’s palm. The rest flew out like sand in water.

The passage of time stops for no one. The entire world is hurrying off to catch up with the developed world, to become one big happy shopping mall…

That, was how I felt on my first day in Istanbul…

2 thoughts on “Rain

  1. A couple of comments:

    For me, one interesting part of visiting China is that Islamic minorities are incorporated apparently very seamlessly and have a reasonably lengthy history. Every major city I’ve visited has a ‘Muslim quarter’. There’s even a province that I’m guessing could probably be considered Muslim – Xinjiang. We’ve gone to a Beijing Muslim restaurant together. I find it interesting how I never had a clue that there was this subculture in China (apart from being vaguely aware of Xinjiang) until I went there in 2000.

    You wrote, “yet, everywhere I went, I felt the futility of traveler¡¯s attempt”. We just got back from visiting China including a week long tour of Yunnan – Kunming, Shiling, Dali, and Lijiang. These are all in the guide books and are on the beaten path. There are airports in Dali and Lijiang (and of course Kunming). Shiling small enough and close enough to Kunming that a train station and a world class freeway will have to suffice. I found the area fascinating and it gave me more apprecation for China. The world is definitely changing and fewer places are changing faster than China. I had Gui ask a taxi driver if the residents in the nearby showcase Naxi ethnic village (and more generally Lijiang) resented the way their village was being changed (some old residences have been leased by outsiders and turned into coffee houses so that the new tourist backpackers can eat, drink, and relax there at prices that local villagers would never pay). He said no, Naxi people are friendly to outsiders and sighted the example of the Flying Tigers using Lijiang as one of their airports during the Japanese war. He said that some of the change was very good because it helped out the poorest people. Downtown old Lijiang before the tourist boom was the poorest part of town. Villagers have now converted their lower floors into shops and are relatively wealthy. Whether the change is for good or for bad (and I think China’s change is good especially in comparison to the upheaval and heartache experienced by China over the past 100 years) we have the opportunity to see a uniquely Chinese (or uniquely Turkish response) to the powerful force of change (this time around the change being Glomart-ization).

    Jean’s Reply:
    Thank you, mfd!
    We can always count on you for thorough and detailed analysis. 🙂
    The problem I’m seeing is that it is really not that “unique” anymore. And I wasn’t trying to say it is bad or good for the local people who enbarked on the change. The point I’m trying to make is roughly similar to saying “I’m not interested in visiting Springfield, IL any time soon.” You see one suburb, you see them all. So what’s the point? But that doesn’t imply the people in Springfield is not happy, or the hard working men and women in Springfield is not making social and economical progress. :p It is just that it holds no appeal to a traveler like me. That’s all.
  2. At Lijiang when discussing our travel plans with other people, I asked for opinions on visiting a nearby village, Shuhe. “Three years ago that would be a really worth-while destination,” I was told, “and today it might still be interesting to visit. But in three years there will definitely be no point to go to Shuhe.”

    I guess travellers will just have to look harder for places that might interest them. Fortunately the world is still large, although it is getting smaller and smaller at a fast pace. I have only seen a very small portion of the planet, so I am not too worried. 🙂

    Jean’s Reply:
    Maybe the “travel data” i have sampled is slightly larger than yours. For some reason, i just feel the choices are exponentially shinking… :((((

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