By Zhou Xiaoping
The past 30 years have flown by, and borne witness to the fact that traveling has become a regular feature of people's lives. My own story epitomizes the course of this progress.
My earliest memories are of spring outings when I was at primary school. As spring approached, I always looked forward to the blossoming of the trees so that we could enjoy a whole day in a park. I clearly remember that spring outing – when I was in Grade 4, we went to the Summer Palace. I took a bus, with steamed bread and prickled vegetable in my bag, a canteen over my neck, and only two jiao (0.2 yuan) in my pocket. In the Summer Palace, we had to queue for the whole morning to hire a boat. On the boat, we shared our food; after our row the girls played hide-and-seek while the boys played at fighting.
In 1979 I won a scholarship to college, so I planned a trip to Beidaihe, the famous resort where influential people used to spend their holidays. I was excited that as an ordinary citizen I could go there too. I couldn't afford to live in a hotel so I chose a tent at a cost of only five yuan per night. Such tents, with no facilities other than summer sleeping mats and pillows, were set up on the beach by farmers to make a little extra money. Although I had to walk a long way to find a toilet, I was perfectly satisfied with what I had. This trip cost me 20 yuan, half of my monthly budget. It was indeed a luxury to me.
In 1983, my husband and I decided to have a honeymoon tour. We visited Qingdao, Mount Tai and Dalian. Since it was a summer holiday and there were so many tourists, we had to live in a school. I slept on a desk in Class 1, Grade 3, while my husband slept in Class 2, Grade 3. It was also difficult to get hold of tickets to Dalian, and we finally got two for the bottom cabins. The ship rocked so much on the sea that I spent the whole night throwing up. It was a tough honeymoon, but I was very happy.
In 1992, one of my friends who was studying in America said he planned to go skiing in the Swiss Alps at Christmas. I was envious of him; the idea of traveling abroad was no more than a dream to me. My major was not good enough to earn a lot of money, my job didn't offer any opportunity of a free trip abroad either, and I had even missed out on the chance of further education abroad.
Unexpectedly, the reform and opening-up policy opened China's gates. As China developed rapidly, many countries in turn opened up to China, and as people obtained higher incomes and more holidays, traveling became a regular experience.
In 2001, I applied for a passport and took my daughter to Korea. In 2002 we went to Egypt, Turkey, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand. If time permitted, we would go anywhere.
Additionally, private cars have made traveling easier and more comfortable. In 2005, I learned from travel.sohu.com that a group was proposing to drive to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and I put my name down. With three cars, we nine strangers became friends within a day. We started our journey from Beijing, through Inner Mongolia and Gansu, to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It took 24 days, covering over 15,000 kilometers.
How time flies! A history of these days, a record of progress in China.
(China.org.cn, translated by Wang Wei, December 2, 2008)