I’d bear the toxic air in Beijing for more memories like these. Next time, I’ll know to stock up on air-pollution masks.


Credit: Jabari Bell

Credit: Jabari Bell

There are a million and one posts about Beijing. They all talk about the The Forbidden City, The Temple of Heaven, The Great Wall, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square, but what I remember most are not the attractions but my experiences.

Sprite in New York tastes ordinary. Sprite in Beijing? It tastes like magic. That bubbly sweetness makes my taste buds dance. And no matter how mind-numbingly cold it is outside, the Peking Duck always melts in your mouth.

It was so frigid one day my friend lost feelings in his fingers and dropped his new set of Chinese chess pieces in the middle of a bustling restaurant. The pieces scattered. Everyone paused. The pans stopped sizzling and men stopped hocking mid-loogie. Throughout the night, servers approached our table and asked, “这个是你的吗?” (Is this your’s?) One by one, each piece returned to the case. By the end of the night every piece was in its place.

These are just some of the stories I tell when people ask me how Beijing was. Photos are plenty but experiences are one of a kind. And to me, that’s the most important part. When it comes to traveling, the destination might be the same but our experience never is.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.