Editor’s Note: This post was written by Claire Kane, but she was unable to post it. Why? She believes our site is blocked in China. I’ll inquire in a few days if this indeed is the case or if perhaps we’re just blocked by one service provider or in one internet cafe. On a more positive note, this is the 100th post on Seven Continents! Congratulations to all the writers, and thanks to all our reader for stopping by.

I’m sitting in Flavor Tango, a fast-food Chinese restaurant in the Beijing airport. I’m feeling drained and dreamy. Air Canada flight 029 departed from Vancouver at noon and chased the sun across the Pacific Ocean until we landed in Beijing. Which means that it’s about 3am my time and I still haven’t seen the sunset.

After studying Chinese history and swallowing any article I could find on China for the past few years, I feel like I’ve just landed in my favorite storybook. I’m drinking hawthorn juice and crunching snow peas and all I hear through the airport announcements is a jumble of monosyllabic tones. After a few hours in this airport I find myself already escaping into the fiction pages of the latest New Yorker. Ah, the sweet relief of the Roman alphabet.

I try to ask a lady at a coffee stand how to say ‘gate’ in Chinese. Unfortunately, my year of Chinese language classes hide in a dusty corner of my brain and Spanish comes running out triumphantly. No, no, mi querida lengua, not this time.

I’m debating buying a beer and sinking into the sleepiness, slowing my mind for a few hours before my flight to Xiamen.

Over the summer I explained my trip to China to so many friends and family that it quickly became an abstract and distant idea. I reiterated the rhetoric of the relevance, timeliness of studying Chinese, and started to sound like another voice in the chorus of The Economist’s “China is Rising” choir, with all its epic mysticism.  Today in the Beijing terminal it is happening. I’m here. Instead of these logical, credentialist motivations for going to China, it is my heart that is pulling me forward: I can’t wait to land in Xiamen.

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