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After: I wish I had kept a travel diary

By 3 July 2009 No Comment

I am amazed at my lack of common sense.

“Don’t forget to keep a travel diary,” they told me. I remember whipping out my little Associated Press notebook I snagged from a career fair last April and jotting down some thoughts upon landing in the Beijing airport nearly a month ago, but I never kept up with it. Why not?

To my credit, this past month has been one of the busiest experiences of my life. When I wasn’t attempting to actually get to know the city I was visiting through museum visits, aimless walks, or taxi excursions, I was usually editing feverishly at a random Starbucks, hand-washing my dirty clothes, reporting with an interpreter, experimenting with Chinese food, or just trying overall to get my full money’s worth out of this amazing program.

But at the same time, what about all those times I was making unnecessary shopping trips or watching a certain overrated TV show about vampires with my Reporting China comrades? I know we all have to live a little, but I suppose it would not have hurt for me to take 10 minutes out of each day to jot down simple reflections about where the day went.

Now I’m back from China, exhausted from jet lag and sick again from the abrupt change in air quality, and I can’t help but look back at this month as something of a blur. A fantastic, exciting, informative blur – but a blur nonetheless. The time went by quickly and I find myself unable to remember exactly what I did on June 14, 21, or most other random dates. Thankfully, I have the bi-weekly e-mails I sent out to family and hundreds (maybe even a couple thousand?) photographs to keep a rough track on last month’s happenings, but nothing can ever replace the accomplished feeling I’d get from a handy journal filled with my own entries.

So, if you’re reading this, take my words to heart and don’t repeat the same mistake I made. As for me, I’ll have my vivid memories of Great Wall-climbing, karaoke-singing, and dog meat-eating memories to fall back on…

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