Fujian Province, CHINA – Not knowing what was in store, we hurried up onto the bus that would take us to a rural village where we would undergo a 20-day military camp.
The bus dragged on for two hours before eventually reaching the destination. We squeezed down through the narrow door and found the scene surprising.
We were standing on a bridge below which the river flowed no longer. Heaps of weeds lay above the dried land and made the ground look even more bare.
We worried constantly about walking over the bridge as its supports were full of cracks.
The sponsor led the group to our dorm, where there were six beds. We six girls squeezed ourselves between the narrow and deserted passage.
I slept on a top bed, just imagining what would be in store for us in the days to come.
The base was set up in a fairly remote area, where large numbers of mountains surrounded the small houses local farmers built.
The sky looked absolutely azure and it was the fresh air that we breathed in all the time.
Though we were hundreds of miles from our cozy homes and had no state-off-the-art facilities – and internet access was impossible there – we stayed excited and delighted. Our decent surroundings had a fresh smell that cleared up the stains inside our minds.
We didn’t have to worry about taking the people-packed buses, or waiting eagerly in an endless queue for tickets to a movie.
We didn’t have to risk our lives, running through crazy traffic in order to reach the other side of a street or speed up for a late but important appointment.
Most importantly, we were simply clear of all the noise in the city, the pollution of the factories and above all, the pressures we carried for a highly-competitive life.
I just couldn’t help extolling what a wonderful gift the trip had presented to us.
It is one that helped us get to taste another side of life, one we never had before.
The experience brightened our memories as well as our lives, leaving me truly thankful.
Zhu Qin Zhe is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.