■ 22:15 (UTC+08:00), 01 JAN 2013 | GBR BEIJING
■ ITEM FIRST POSTED BEFORE 07 FEB 2014
2013 is a new year for us, but this year is special — it will be the first year since 1987 where each of the four digits of the year is a different number. And that’s a hint for you to “be different” this year. Much like Apple’s former slogan, Think Different, set it out from the rest of the pack, being different and going to different places is probably the best way to start the new year right, and to give you one of those beginnings you won’t quite easily forget.
Probably the best way to start this new trip is to take to somewhere totally new on the first day itself. I still remember my first short-haul trip right on 01 January 2012, when I took the train to Langfang — not too far away, a mere 60 km outside of Beijing. But at least I got off my sofa and went somewhere. I think you can do more than just 60 km in the new year: try heading to a city or a country you’ve never been to — ideally on the first day. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and into newer territories.
After being probably scared to death last year about “Are we going to die in 2012?”, I’m sure you’ve been scared as much as I’ve been. The good news is: We just about all survived. So here’s a thing: take into the new year and go places. Answer questions for yourselves — such as:
1. Can I, at the young/old age of ____, still learn a new language / ___ new languages?
2. Have I visited my favourite country yet? If so, can I go somewhere new and make that my new favourite?
3. Can I think of a place on this planet that is a place of major inspiration?
4. Where is that place on the planet where things are just totally different from where I am now?
China’s an exciting place, no doubt, but there are over 200 other countries, territories and regions on the planet. From the exotic islands to the vast Sahara desert, I’m sure there’s a place, a culture, a city, a civilisation that you haven’t touched upon. This year it’s time to get some new visas and stamps in your passport.
Make your new year’s resolution one that you bid the usual farewell and step into the world of the new, probably the weird — but a wider world nonetheless. Alison Zhou and I will be starting a brand new show on Radio Beijing (AM 774), Wider World Waves. Every Wednesday we’ll be exploring new frontiers — new languages, new cultures, new creeds. Learning a new language or culture doesn’t have to be boring — it can be something really exciting as well. ■ ■ ■