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  • Writer's pictureJohnny

Snakes, Fees, and New Beginnings

Sleepless Return

How many times will I return to this city? As I sip on bitter golden colored tea, my arrival to this was smoother than expected. A few long layovers paired with a peaceful night spent on an expensive closet that was called a "room". Unaware to myself, I didn't sleep through the long stretch like I usually do. Instead, I wrote, read, and watched.

This left me in a slight daze as I was hustled through the busy halls of Shanghai's now active airport. A stark difference to how it was last time I arrived here. The eerily quiet airport was brought back to life. People from all over entering and leaving Shanghai. Workers and attendees bustling around to their duties. Slowly, I navigated myself through the airport; trying to make the most of each moment... as well as searching for a restroom so I could get rid of my bad breath.

As active as the airport was. It was efficient. There never was a stop to the flow of people going through security. In less than an hour I was through it all. Waiting for my beautiful chaperon. Carrying enough to encumber my tired frame, I was guided through the hectic tunnels that was Shanghai's metro system. It was as I remembered, crowded, busy, and always moving. Like the inside of a beehive. As the metro lurched towards our destination, it broke surface for a moment showing the beautiful red sunset over the silhouetted city. Many stops later and we finally departed out into the streets.

Starting Point

Each time this city seems to offer a new feeling in my heart. Shanghai, the city on the sea, has been the starting point to many of my adventures. Now, it is the initiation for my newest adventure. I'll be in this lively city for two months with a few goals in mind.


Whether it's Muay Thai, BJJ, or Kung Fu. I'd like to spend my time training something while I'm here.

🤜Explore the City's Tea

Tea has become a hobby of mine (just like many other things), and I'd like to know more about it. There are some cool tea shops in Shanghai that I'd like to see. Perhaps even purchase!

🤜Improve Skills

This oddly phrased goal simply means to improve my Chinese and any other skills I get a chance to improve. Photography, Website Design, Flexibility, etc. The main goal is to improve Chinese, focus on other languages like Thai and Spanish at a later date.

Trying to make the most of my moments here. This year has been a failure for me. It started off strong with me going to Thailand, quitting my job, and traveling again. But the middle of the year was just working without making much progress in anything. A plateau. A hump. Little money was saved, no training was done, and I watched many opportunities just pass me by.

The Struggle

All that being said, I'm now more focused on my end goal. What the point of all of this training is...

For the past two years the struggle has been what martial art to focus on. Kung Fu is at the top. Due to Maling, Movies, and Games, Kung Fu always has some nostalgia. When looking at modern Kung Fu, it is just performance. Which is where the personal issue lies. Simply performing doesn't suit my goal nor my belief in what a martial art is. There should be a martial aspect to Kung Fu. Which is where Sanda comes in.

散打/散手 - Sanda, "Chinese Kickboxing"

Sanda is a sport China created to help promote the more martial side of Kung Fu. Combining modern arts like boxing, chute wrestling with Chinese martial arts creating a sport where Kung Fu practitioners can finally test themselves. The end goal for me is to get onto the USA Sanda/Wushu team. Since Sanda is so rare in the USA (Texas, Arizona, Atlanta, and Maryland) I am going to train in China and Hong Kong. Ending my journey in Thailand.

Train. Compete. Repeat.

Insanity 🐍

Sitting in the dark apartment at four in the morning typing away at a keyboard. Tongue dried from the now finished bitter tea. I've been writing this blog post for a few days now; trying to get some structure or cohesion to my thoughts. For years now, my journals and blogs have all been about this one plan. Yet I still haven't been able to accomplish it.

Distractions. Distractions. Distractions.

No wonder my first dream after arriving in Shanghai was a nightmare involving snakes. Books talk about snakes being the dream symbol for change, fear, and challenges. Me being in the middle of a pond surrounded by snakes certainly could mean all of the above. New location, new challenges, unexpected fees, and unexpected challenges all came at me this year.

But hey, I'm still here.

Time to become focused. Time to become disciplined again.

No more distractions.


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This blog post was written over the course of 5 days during my transition to Shanghai. Finally it lays complete at the ripe hour of 4:15 am on the fifth of December in 2023. My tongue is dry, winter is coming, and music faintly plays through my headphones.

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