Space-Time Traveling Around the World: An Introduction
It has been eight months since I left home to travel around the world.
There are 22 years of writing and thinking before I wrote that line and after. I have lived in Peru, Cuba, South Africa, China, and am now in Vietnam. I’ve been in this four billion year-old world for 22 years, but as my friend Mari puts it, we’ve been atoms, since forever.
I’ve wanted to write a blog for the past 8 months now and have been posting tiny letters as updates to those who wanted to follow this journey. And after all this time, the words are coming to me for this page. What is happening is that I am suddenly entering all these different realities. In every single city I move to for what could be seen as a “short” time (of two months or so), in reality, feels so much deeper.
In Vietnam, suddenly, everyone except me knows about Hồ Chí Minh and the centuries of resistance to Chinese occupation in Vietnam. I am suddenly in a reality where motorbikes by the hundreds speed down the streets of Hà Nội each day, where everyone around me is speaking Vietnamese, where it is suddenly normal to walk down streets of sidewalk businesses lined with their little red and blue plastic chairs for people to sit on and enjoy a homemade drink with sunflower seeds.
I enter realities where it is suddenly the norm to live under communism-socialism, where anti-imperialism is part of the country’s history, where ‘propaganda’ is just a Spanish word for ‘advertisements on billboards,’ where farming for hours on end without ever the term ‘equal pay for equal work’ is a grandmother’s lifetime, where different forms of resistance be it against apartheid and the U.S. Empire, is common knowledge.
What is custom, culture, and norm, then, is constantly in flux. And in these realities, what I knew sometimes gets incorporated or if it doesn’t make it, it stays in another realm. And a new reality is formed.
And so, what I can try to do is be a bridge in the way I know how, through writing. What I can do is take you to a different reality. Not different reality as in escape, but as in perspective. I can take you to different countries around the world from the ways in which I lived with the world around me. It’s not going to be perfect, nor will it always be profound. But a lot of the times it is meaningful. And I need to tell you, that in the bleakness that is Amerika, there is so much beauty out here. There is so much beauty in this world every single second of every single day whether we are there to witness it or not. I am writing this because my story matters. Because in searching for answers on how to travel, there are so many white people who have the systemic privilege to do so and then write about it as if they are new experts on Chinese people, traveling in Africa, and Vietnamese food. So at the very least, I want to write against that. And promote traveling in a way that can be better.
This is for the QTPOC travelers, be it ‘traveling’ in the physical realm, space-time realm or imagination. This is me continuing to write me and us into global existence and into collective history.
慧瑩 huiying, a space-time traveling dandelion
P.S. Enter “Chinatowns Around the World” in the menu to begin to see these global stories.
Written in May 2017