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My life and the sea

Popularity 1Viewed 3469 times 2016-10-6 13:31 |Personal category:travel|System category:Life| sea, life

I was born on the little known Weihe River Plain (渭河平原) in Shaanxi province in central China. Never before had I climbed a mountain or even seen a real mountain just a few miles away from me, until I enrolled in Xi’an Fanyi (Translating and Interpreting) University located at the foot of a great mountain with an altitude of over 2,000 meters. Before entering the university, I read lots of articles and stories about mountains and so I dreamed of seeing one and standing on top of it someday. Then, my dream was realized.

The moment I saw the mountain ranges, I was extremely awed. It seemed that my heart was filled with nothing but great admiration of the holiness of the mountain. Its high altitude, its beautiful shapes, its green color and its mysteriousness, all filled my heart and soul with passion. But one explanation is that I was naive, because seeing a mountain is nothing indeed except you are a person who has no a good number of experiences. I was like that then, but I harvested my happiness by reaching the peak of the mountain. At least, Chinese tradition says that great people usually love mountains, and I was so pleased to share the habit with great people.

After achieving this dream, I was then hoping to make another bigger dream of mine come true: watching the sea. My hometown and alma mater are all in central China and so I had no chance to see the sea. I went to Shanghai during the 2011 National Day holiday of China, hoping to have a look at it near Shanghai but was told it was still far away from where I stood---the Oriental Pearl on the bank of Huangpu River. It was pitiful and the dream seemed to have drowned. In fact, the idea of coming to Beijing to work had already begun rattling in my mind. In August 2012, I finally arrived in the capital of China---the dream workplace for me.

Beijing is not a coastal city but is near the coast of Bohai, China, about 2-4 hours of train ride to the most beautiful places of it: Beidaihe and Qinhuangdao. I never thought about traveling 300 km or so by train to the coast until 2015, when I planned to ride a bike to Tianjin to see the sea. I was told the sea of Tianjin is not very beautiful and the dream began to wither. Actually, my will of riding a bike to cover hundreds of kilometers to the city had already shaken. In this summer I suddenly generated an idea of traveling to Beidaihe, which many Chinese travelers have been to and given very good comments. However, for a long time before, I had been considering Beidaihe or Beidai River a river rather than a seashore and actually many Chinese who haven’t been there think like me. Then, on a weekend I booked the ticket and got on the train to the river-like sea. 

The picture I took was in this year's summer in Beidaihe.

The first moment I saw the blue-colored sea, my heart beat very fast and I repeated “beautiful” to myself as I approached the beautiful beach. The sea was hidden behind a few short trees and the city’s infrastructure seen from where I stood. As I walked on the sand carrying a heavy bag on my back, I felt a little bit disappointed although excitement still excelled. The reason is the edge of the sea on the other side looked blurring because of smog. But the sea I have watched from TV is one which looks quite clear and vast, and it seems you can see whatever you want, even a boat floating from side to side on it. I also remember I have watched videos which show the scene where sea waves slam the rocks along the coast. But the sea of this coast was relatively calm and was suitable for swimming. 

I took off my shoes and walked on the beach, seeing the edge of the sea on the other side. More curiously, I walked into the sea water to taste the flavor of it. Salty! One of friends has told me to do so and I did it. I cannot imagine how sea creatures live such a salty water. It will kill us humans if you drink too much water of it. In fact, the salty water is probably more productive than fresh water. My sea-watching trip didn’t end this way. When I reached the same beach the following morning, I was impressed by what I saw. It was quite clear at the edge of the sea. I saw large ships and some gray clouds hovering between the sea and the sky. As soon as I stepped into the sea water, I realized it was quite clear and even transparent. Fish, jellyfish and little shrimps swam in the shallow water and small crabs moved like warriors at your feet. My feet was even bitten by the large pincers. I was painful indeed! I swam in it but I still didn’t feel the power of the sea yet.

Before this National Day holiday, I planned to travel to the highly reputed historic site and the beginning of the Great Wall of China---Shanhaiguan Pass in Qinhuangdao. My aim was to view the miraculous scene of the pass of the Great Wall standing on a mountain overlooking the sea at its foot. It was a little different but impressive indeed.

Shanhaiguan was quite famous not only because it is the beginning of the Great Wall but because it was guarded by a traitor named Wu Sangui of the Ming Dynasty, who served as the highest military officer of the pass to fight against the Manchu people outside the Great Wall. At the end of the Ming Dynasty he surrendered and opened the pass to the invaders from the north. Later, the Ming Dynasty collapsed partially because of the treason and was finally replaced by the last dynasty of China---Qing Dynasty. 

This is the Old Dragon Head of Shanhaiguan Pass. I took this picture on the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2016

I headed for it also partly because of its huge fame. I stayed in Shanhaiguan district for 2.5 days, and I traveled to some of the most famous sites of the district in the first day and visited the pass in the second day. The Incomparable Pass in China (天下第一关) doesn’t stand beside the sea but inside an antique-like city built by modern people in the city. I laughed at myself but finally learned from the locals that the beginning of the Great Wall is named Old Dragon Head (老龙头), which extends into the sea and is the beginning of the Great Wall. The distance between the Incomparable Pass in China and the Old Dragon Head is about 5 kilometers. I headed for the site in the second and third days. 

In the second day I bought a 50-yuan ticket to the scenic spot and saw the Old Dragon Head as I walked to the end of the spot---the seashore. I was impressed by the beginning of the Great Wall as well as by the open and vast sea stretching to the end of the sky. It was beautiful! I could see small boats and large ships floating at sea between the sky and the sea, and I also saw a large shipyard to the left. The water was not blue but a little bit green and gray, most probably because of the overcast weather. It was windy and even a little bit cold, but the sea told me: “Open your heart, my friend.” I opened my heart and soul to it and felt its greatness, vastness, gorgeousness and generosity. I enjoyed being touched by the cold wind and being splashed by the waves as I got on a motorboat cutting into the heart of the sea in high speed. 

This beach is located east of the Old Dragon Head and is free is vist. I took this picture on the morning of Oct. 5, 2016. It was cloudless and the sea was quite beautiful.

The second day ended with a satisfied heart and my love of the sea extended to the third day morning. God bless! The third day (5th day of the 7-day holiday) was cloudless and very suitable to take a walk along the free beach east of the Old Dragon Head. I was moved again by the sea, only because of its sapphire blue and vastness. No matter how big or impressive a river is, it is not comparable with the sea, which opens its heart to every trickle of water, most probably to the major tributaries of the rivers of the world. For example, the largest river Amazon of the world, which I admire and hope to visit someday, looks solemn, gigantic and unbeatable. Yet, compared with the sea, it is just small child, not as open as the sea. I advocate openness and so I love the nature of the sea. As far as I know most people who watch the sea will become awed, generate the idea of being generous, and probably get rid of their mental trouble and become optimistic about life. This is what I have learned from the sea. 

In the second day on my trip to the Dragon Head, I heard from one tour guide that Dalian is just opposite the pass across the sea. I then dreamed of crossing the sea by ship or even fishing boat, for what I want is to experience the true and profound meaning of the largest reservoir on earth. Sadly no fishing boats are allowed to take travelers and no ships found at the site are given permission to take travelers to Dalian, although a shipyard is just within your eyesight. But I won’t give up and I know Qingdao is one of the ideal places to realize my dream. I will go there when I become fully prepared next time. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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