3 things I learned walking from Hujailou to Sanlitun

I live in a place called Hujailou and I work in a place called Sanlitun. Sanlitun is the cool area of Beijing and it is where a lot of the young and fashion conscious hang out.

I walk too and from work every day… this is my commute. If you can see it, you will see that it is very much like any walk through any other city in the west. It does have localised differences but it is still very familiar, once you adjust.

This was the walk that my son and daughter took by themselves when they first came to meet me from work.

Let me explain. They flew to Beijing from Scotland to come spend some time with me and to also see what China was like.

When you arrive in China you realise quite quickly that you are in a very foreign place as so much is different in a way and it is definitely not like visiting a European country.

One of the things you have to get over is the jet lag. So for that reason I had said to the kids that they could rest in the apartment until I get back from work, but if they couldn’t sleep and if they were curious and wanted to get out then they could come and meet me from work. So I drew them a map not really expecting them to use it or come up to meet me as I knew they were tired and I could sense some apprehension from them.

Much to my surprise and delight, they used the map because they did turn up at my work and they were all super excited and very pleased with themselves. It was great to see their confidence even if they told me about some squeaky moment when they were crossing the roads. Electric scooters are silent and fast.

I should not have been too surprised at their ability to just go for it. The year before my son travelled all the way out from Scotland to Beijing himself. He was 13 years old. I drew him an extensive map for that journey too.

He made it all the way to Beijing City airport and checked in at the key points and we watched his journey with excitement but with a little parental worry. He was after all 13 and to old for any supervised support from British Airways, which was the airline he was flying with at the time. Never the most friendly.

He did make it though and as I waited at the gate, knowing that his plane had landed, I became more and more concerned as he had not came through the arrivals gate as expected.

I waited and waited, getting more concerned and trying to work out what could have happened. After about an hour and a half I started making calls and texts in order to work out what could have happened to him.

I knew his visas etc were all in order as we had paid a company to do it just to make sure it was all done right. I couldn’t work out what had happened to him and was about to call the Embassy…

Then about 2 hours after I expected him to have come through the gate, I got a call to my mobile from a number I didn’t recognise.

I answered and it was my son, who calmly informed me that his suitcases had not shown up at the luggage carousel, he had waited and waited and then as he realise that they must be missing he decided to go and sort it out. He informed me nonchalantly that he was in the middle of completing the forms and he would be through in a minute. He explained he couldn’t call me because his mobile wasn’t working and he was fine because the people here were great and were helping him work it all out. ‘I’ll get you in about five minutes dad’ he said, hanging up.!

I look back now and realise I should never under estimate them and I do reflect back and take three lessons from their early journeys to see me in Beijing.

Lesson one, stay calm during periods of adversity and that will help you work things out with less stress.

Lesson two, people are always willing to help. People are, on the whole, very helpful, generous and always supportive of others. Don’t trust everyone without any care, but know that you can trust others when you have to seek help.

And lesson three, follow the map. If it is a directional map then it’s good to know it and follow it. If it’s a map from an experience or for a life journey, and it’s coming from someone who has had some success on that journey… Then follow that map and explore some of the side roads as you go.

Thats it for this week from me, I shared these lessons back to the Nina and Josh and as always some of it will stick in their heads and some will go the way of the clouds as it passes by them.

As for you guys, I hope you get something out of it, thank you for tuning in and as always please leave feedback so that I can keep on learning, and subscribe and share with anyone that you think can resonate with my message.



‘See the route from Hujailou to Sanlitun on this video’

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