It's on the longest of journeys that we meet some of the most of the genuine people; or maybe it's when we wander off the beaten path that we realize everyone is in search of something greater. On my travels I've met many people chasing their dreams, similar to me wandering the world chasing mine. On this particular journey, I met two bartenders as I was bar hopping through a Beijing hutong. These two hard knock leaders both served me up a bit of their story for passion and purpose.
Chen Hongji (Kenny) poured me a couple of rounds as I was ending the night and we kicked it off right away. lacking english conversation on my travels to China, It was great to connect to some intellectual discussion that I could actually understand. We chatted briefly about the stories of struggles and survival that some people faced in the less developed western regions of mainland China. We then discussed what could be done to support development for under resourced populations and regions.
Kenny originally hailed from the southern cantonese speaking "Guangxho" region which is a developed sea bordering city. He's been living in Beijing for about a year exploring the capital city and loves the character of their outgoing people. Kenny was originally an engineer but quit to chase something that he was more passionate about. While he has never traveled outside of China, his dream job is to be a travel writer and share stories with others. A fan of romance, pizza and opera, Italy is on the top of his travel list.
Kenny's laid back attitude of taking life as it comes may have come across with his favourite saying "Shuibìan" which is roughly translated as "whatever." However, his ambition and gratefulness to his family reminded me of how humble he was. "Dreams take a long time to accomplish, so I work every day for those dreams." Kenny is a reminder to me about all those who consider themselves lucky for chasing what they believe in.
I met Shu Xing (Sophie) working one of the local joints that I visited along the way and I was immediately caught off guard by her charming British accent. Sophie had studied in North Carolina, majoring in Fashion Design and with the help of her family had studied British english to experience the world outside mainland China. We talked about her experience living abroad in the States, which gave her a newfound spirit for life.
Originally from the small southern city of Changsha but recent to Beijing, she hopes to find her place in the capital city, where she enjoys meeting people from around the world. "There is no big difference between Beijing and the South. We all hope for a better life and to share happiness in the world together." Like every young enthusiast of life, her goal is to travel around the world, "Morocco" being on top of the list. "The world has a lot to see and I want to see it"
A warm friendly smile is what I will always remember when thinking back to meeting Sophie for the first time. She reminds me to enjoy every day with her strong spirit of adventure.
Hútòngs are narrow streets or alleys, most commonly associated with Beijing, China. The word also refers to neighbourhooods & represent an important historical & cultural element to the city of Beijing. Every city has it own distinct concrete jungles with the leaders of the hard knock chasing their own dreams.