STEADY ABROAD: CHINA PT.1

Anthony Bourdain once said that China is both, so large in size and vast in culture that he will never truly understand it — even if he were to devote a lifetime to it. And while this latest trip would be my fifth time in the country, I perhaps know less about it than someone like Bourdain himself. What I can say however is, I’m home.

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天气 (WEATHER)

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It was mid-March and wet as a muhfucker. Prior to this trip I had only been here during summer vacations. Normally I’d be hiding a beach-ready bod under some shorts but here I was, in a hoodie layered under an anorak. Confused, I checked my wallet to find a monsoon season pass in place of my Six Flags ones. Perhaps not the best time for a great adventure.

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One thing remained the same though — the air. Although I don’t know too much about the pollution logistics in the area I was in, I can say it was thick and held certain scent. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but my nose knows, and it’s pleasant.

广州 (GUANGZHOU)

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GUANGZHOU; part of the GUANGDONG Province, is located in southern China along the Pearl River. If you’re a Chinese or have ever been mistaken for one, people often ask: “You Canto or Mando?” This  and the surrounding areas are where Cantonese are most spoken.

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Like most of China, GUANGZHOU is busting at the seams with contemporary industrial and economical growth. It shouldn’t come as a surprise but they’ve got all the 5th Ave brands, unruly expensive high-rise buildings, and “$$$$” dining experiences that we do. I emphasis that contrary to popular Western media, GUANGZHOU/China is not all rice patties and conical hats. Not for the last decade anyway.

That said, I’ve yet to explore this side.  Not because I’m a product of Western media and drawn by the mysticism, but because this is the side of GUANGZHOU that my roots are from — flip-floppin’ up 5-story concrete walk-ups and fucking squatting toilets.

妈妈 (MOM)

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This time around I wasn’t traveling alone rather, with my mom.

Personally, I prefer exploring things alone but she was iiight. Like most people my age, my relationship with her can be summed up in the three phrases I use with her on the phone: “yea”, “ok ok”, and “yea.” We weren’t on the phone though so things were different. She showed me her hood. We combed up and down narrow passageways leading to where she used to live, eat, and play.

Often times we’ll talk about STEADY whenever I’m in the kitchen blowing off steam as I re-steep my teabag for the third time. She’d say something like “well if it’s so tough then don’t do it.” I backpedal my exaggerations. She’d then tell me about a “Chinese saying”. (Like Kardashians, they’re famous and too many to keep up with.) But it goes “A man never wears a hat larger than his head”, meaning if you don’t think you can handle something, don’t take it on. I backpedal some more. “Nevermind I got this.”

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On the fourth day we made a quick stop down to HONG KONG.

香港 (HONG KONG, AGAIN)

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China and Hong Kong are like the colors red and violet. From a wholistic color wheel perspective they’re so close they’re touching, bleeding into one another. But from another point of view, they’re world’s apart — both on opposite sides of a single color spectrum.

We arrived, and a cultural switch was hit. On top of that, much like my mom had just done, the roles were then reversed. Having left her mostly in the dark during the time of my last stay, it was now my turn to show her where I had previously lived, ate, and played.

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She also helped me haggle down the price on some Reebok Pumps. Come see us.

陌生人 (STRANGER)

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We all want to be a somebody. Whether it’s for something or someone. Nobody wants to be a nobody…or so I’m told?

I know for STEADY’s sake, I want to be a leader, a champion, a voice, and a hand to those who fuck with us and what we’re about. And for those around me, a good friend, son, and lover. But I also want to be a nobody. (Miss me with the misanthropic introvert memes, it ain’t that shit.)

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As I retraced and re-combed through the loud dense neon streets of Hong Kong, I was a nobody. Until the day we’re out to put their city on the map, no one’s paying attention to our moves, what we’re trying to prove, or what L’s we may take there. They don’t tell you this but, being a nobody is powerful. Stripped of the need for facades, to be a nobody is the chance to be unequivocally oneself.

CONTINUED TO PT. 2

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