Today’s Let’s Go Flaneuring post comes from a city nicknamed the Eternal Spring City. Take a walk with Jessica Bretz around her temporary and fascinating corner of the world. I have to confess I’m a bit jealous of her average temperatures and I love seeing the contrast of street side vendors and brand name stores. Enjoy!
How do I explain that my city won’t always be my city?
My roots are normally planted in Minnesota, surrounded by cornfields, pine trees and long country roads, the perfect rural setting. In the winter snow heavily blankets the ground and the temperatures are bitterly cold. I run on these country roads through snow, rain and sunshine, putting in the miles, my feet pounding the pavement.
But I am not there.
I am here, in a city half way across the world. An ocean and a landmass separates me from my family as I am sole caretaker of a special needs orphan, while her foster family is in the states, getting much needed surgery for their youngest.
I am only here till January but when my plane finally touched down in this far east Asian city I felt like I was home.
In a way I was.
I had lived here before for a short eight months, leaving a piece of my heart deeply buried in the amazing food and the friendships I had formed.
The city is nicknamed the city of Eternal Spring where the average temperature is seventy degrees for most of the year. A small city by the country’s standard yet it seems huge to this rural Minnesota girl. Sky scrapers are everywhere and there are more being built, threatening to block my view of the mountains that surround the city.
Yet, the city hasn’t totally become modernized. There are still little squattie buildings, barely seven stories, grime slowly creeping from the top down.
I live in a large building in a two story apartment. From my front window I have a beautiful view of one of the ring roads that lap the city. I can sit at the dining room table sipping coffee and observe the traffic on the two story road, the pavement stacked like children’s building blocks. At night one can behold a myriad of lights all different colors, signs declaring in characters each building’s name. From the opposite side of the apartment where my room is located, I get a view of the sunset and at night a gorgeous access to the moon.
To get out of my complex I must walk down a long avenue, trees on both sides, apartments on my left and on my right a building that’s use is still unknown to me. If I hang a right, walking along the ring road, I will come to a short tunnel, full of vendors sitting with their open vans. They sell mostly fruit and vegetables and an occasional van will be selling accessories for the electric scooters that are everywhere. If I keep going, there is a Walmart, similar to our American ones, yet it still feels perfectly Asian, with live fish, crabs and frogs in the meat section.
If I walk to the left, there is a Carrefore and a KFC housed in several tall buildings decorated with rectangles of red, green, orange and yellow. At night they light up, the lights running up and down the tall buildings. Across the ring road is a market where I buy my vegetables, eggs, candy and fruit. The market is inside a building framed on the outside by stores. Inside there are tables and tables, covered with vegetables and meat. The sides of the room framed with little inset shops selling rice, spices, breads, and cooked duck. The first time I came to this country, I almost puked at the smells, the churning in my stomach from a bug I picked up not helping matters. Now I hardly notice the smells and enjoy walking by the vendors with fresh fish, staring fascinated at the vendor who is cutting up live eel with his bare hands.
The city is both dirty and yet beautiful, trees are everywhere, flowers line the streets. At night trash litters the sidewalks but instead of using trucks to clean, people from a certain ethnic group sweep the streets and sidewalks.
How do I explain in words why I love this city? Why I enjoy walking the cracked sidewalks, the tiles threatening to shift under your feet when it rains.
Maybe its because I got to come back a second time and experience afresh all the things I missed when I left. Many of those things I have just described.
Maybe its because the second time my eyes are opened just that much more to the little things, the little beauties that are unique to this city.
Maybe its because I get to see friends that I have made, and enjoy anew relationships that were formed.
Whatever the reason, I know when I must leave, yet another piece of my heart will lie buried in this Eternal Spring city.
Jessica normally lives in rural small town Minnesota, where she enjoys running, reading, and quilting. She also enjoys traveling and currently she lives in Asia loving on a special needs orphan. You can read more about her life on www.mylovelypatchworklife.
One of the things I’ve discovered as a writer is the importance of place. It’s true that wherever you are, you are. However, it seems that we are as rooted in our homes just as much as our hearts, ultimately, are rooted within the grace of God. Nice piece! You write well. Favorite line: “little squatty buildings.” – DDM
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