Hangzhou, China, 2020

Exactly one year ago, my woman and I took a trip to the south of China. It was meant to be a welcome break from the daily grind in the city up north where we’ve managed to tough it out for months. I took this picture as we pulled out of Hangzhou’s high-speed railway station in the shuddering dusk. We were blissfully unaware at the time that we were on the wrong train, hurtling towards an unknown destination at 340 km/h through the vast Oriental night. Staying put in this country poses enough challenges as it is and we, still shrouded in innocence, somehow assumed that travelling through it on our lonesome would be entirely possible as long as we kept our trusty translation apps handy and our sense of humor intact. This was a mistake.

Alas, wisdom comes dear. Right now, being a little more streetwise and honed by the road, we’re packing our bags once more for a much, much longer journey south. This time, however, it’s a one-way trip: we’re getting the hell out of China. We’ve been skyscraped and fistfucked, star-torn and reborn in a baptism of fire that would make little sense to the uninitiated or, for that matter, to our former selves. We’ve found beauty in the ugliest of places, within and without, and learnt that a snake always smiles before it strikes. All one can do is to smile back, sticking out your tongue like a holy brat, teasing and tasting the air while you wait. ‘Cause even when you’re feeling lost in the blistering cold, the random snows of kindness continue to fall.

While our minds tend to join the chorus of voices telling us that we’re headed in the wrong direction, or better yet, that it’s so much wiser to just stay put for now, our hearts are whispering that we should go, go, go at the speed of Light, even if we have no idea where we’ll end up in the gloom. This time round, that’s fine by us. It’s all a game, a show, a ride – complete with fresh monsters cackling on every passing screen – and we’ve paid for shotgun seats a zillion times over. So level up. Xie xie to all. Off, my love, we fucking go.

© Jac Kritzinger.
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