As I sit on the rooftop of my apartment in a traditional hutong in Beijing, I find myself strangely at peace in this crazy city.
Thanks to the hospitality of our local Chinese host, Cindy, and the magic of AirBnB, I have found a wonderful home on the other side of the planet. This is how the people of Beijing live and I am privileged to be living among them.
This is a magic city.
For those of you contemplating a trip, know that English is not common. Also, I would not describe people as warm and friendly, and being a pedestrian is a death-defying sport. But with an open mind and open heart, it is easy to find your place here.
While I have traveled extensively and always spent my days trying to see how the local people live, my homes have mostly been hostels and hotels. I have always known that the rare opportunity to be invited to stay in a home away from home is the most special of experiences. But now I see that this is the only way to live the world…with people.
Eat at the dumpling diner on the corner. Discover your local pub. Take the subway to work. Seek out your closest grocer. Master your hand gesture and body language skills. Point to what you need. Bring a calculator so people can tell you what things cost. Learn how to say hello – and thank you. Stop to watch old men play board games. Laugh a lot. Smile all the time.
You can find a home anywhere just by opening your heart.