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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Going for a run

The other morning, I went for a run at 5:30 AM. That’s something I’ve only done once before in my life, and both times I went because I’d given up on sleeping. On this particular early morning, I’d been lying awake for nearly two hours on the wooden box with sheets that was my hotel bed. So, at 5:30 AM, with no sleep in sight, I put on my running clothes and slipped out into the street lit city.

China is noisy. While we’ve been in cities, there have been people, cars, and motorcycles everywhere. Stray dogs barking. Music. Life. Even in our rural homestay, three hours outside the city we were in that morning, I’d be woken up in the middle of the night to chickens howling their heads off, or in the morning, to my homestay family chatting near my room. It has never been quiet on this trip.

But when I stepped out onto the dark streets that morning, awake before the sun, it was as peaceful and quiet as my 5:30am run in Kensington, MD. I was in the middle of a Chinese city with over a million people, and I could actually hear my footsteps on the concrete and the distant roar of a nearby river. I must have seen a total of three people on my entire run, the same as when I ran back home. Back home, the people I passed were going outside to get their newspapers; here, they were smoking or setting up their shops. But still, the early morning quiet felt familiar.

It’s nice to remember that everybody sleeps.