We first met in Luang Prabang, Laos, a place so seemingly perfect in my memory I can’t think of going back. Saffron-robed monks, old French colonial shuttered buildings, winding village streets, intricately embroidered silks hanging from shop windows, glorious buddhist temples with romantic, stepped roofs above intricate murals in warm colors.
We bumped into her in the night market, one of those marvelous places with strings of lights hanging in every direction. She was traveling on her own, taking a mini-break from work in Shanghai. She was a finance girl, worked at a private equity shop, and traveled in sneakers and jeans with a simple backpack over her shoulder. She was sweet, engaging and inquisitive, and so seemingly happy to keep her own company and wander peacefully on her way. We found her again in Vientienne, and then again in Siem Reap where we finally swapped details.
Ling and I kept in touch over the years, sharing life updates. She invited my parents on a personal tour of her Shanghai when they visited—what would be their favorite day there. She came to visit in Boston when I was home for the summer and she relaxed with us over a sunny lunch outside as my boys played with the stuffed pandas she’d brought them.
I haven’t stepped foot in China yet but I will, and my own personal tour with her will be my favourite day there.