Postcard From the Black Lake, by Xinyi Li

Before selling postcards he ran the racecourse with some other locals. Now his dream was to go to Nepal to learn wood carving.

When I travel to a new city I always send a postcard to myself, for example: Sent on: Sunday, From: 要用北京腔. At first, the postcards were proof of the places I had been, but gradually it became a habit.

When the postcards arrive I put them in a big cookie box, along with other stuff I collect when I travel, plane, train and movie tickets, certificates, a picture of my ex-boyfriend and many other photos I’ve taken. The postcards bring back many memories, but perhaps one of the most memorable is about a postcard seller.

I met him at Chaka Salt Lake in Qinghai Province. That day I had separated from my friends – we were volunteer teachers in Qinghai Tibet Plateau and lived together for one month. We had been like a family. They returned to their home cities and I continued traveling alone. I felt so sad and wanted to cry.

Chaka Salt Lake was terrible. It was crowded with people and the lake was black, the sand dirty. All of that made me want to leave as soon as possible. Then one day when I was looking for something to eat I saw a postcard stall.

The owner was a young man with long hair tied back. He looked like an artist. The man told me he wasn’t local, he had only been there for a year. Before selling postcards he ran the racecourse with some other locals but quit because of cultural differences. Now his dream was to go to Nepal to learn wood carving.

While I wrote my postcard, a neighbouring stall keeper gave us two pieces of watermelon which we shared. At the end of the day I helped him put away his stall. After we said goodbye I watched him ride off on his motorbike until he was far in the distance.

I often wonder what is he doing now. Perhaps he became a famous wood-carver in Nepal. Or maybe he is still in Chaka Salt Lake selling postcards. He will stay in my memory forever.

在旅行中,我有一个奇怪的癖好,寄明信片给自己。刚开始,明信片对于我来说像是一种证明,证明这个地方我来过,但是,渐渐的它成为了我旅行中的一种习惯。

我的第一张寄给自己的明信片应该是在高中毕业的旅行途中写的。我已经忘了我写了什么,但是我还记得当时是和我最好的朋友一起去的。去旅行之前,我们很纠结,
因为不知道应该去四季如春的云南,还是水乡江南。后来,我想,江南地带搞不好和威尼斯一样,到处都是河流,用船当交通工具,想想觉得挺有意思的,于是定下了去江南地区。当时,我还隐瞒了爸爸妈妈,说是好朋友的家长带我们去,其实就只有我们两个小女生。

那段时间恰逢夏季,我们去的是全中国最热的地方,听说鸡蛋掉在地上都会变成煎鸡蛋,我们两个女生顶着高温,行走在那些城市,好多细节已经忘记了,只记得那些城市的交通工具和其他城市没有区别。

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