By the Taiwanese standard, I am living in a small city. However, I have noticed a lot of city folks here still have a so-called small town mentality. I actually don’t have to go too far to find people like that. The idea of writing this article came from a heated discussion I had with my Tai Chi instructor about international travel today.


I go to a Tai Chi club every Monday and Saturday. There are very few Chinese members in the club. In fact, I almost can count the number of Chinese members with one hand. Many of my fellow members thought that I had pretty solid kung fu skills when I first joined the Tai Chi club. (Thanks to my high school Ph Ed. Teacher and all those Kung Fu TV’s and movies I watched!) However, sometimes I wonder if they think every Chinese must be good at Chinese kung fu.


Most of my instructors are volunteers. So, most of them are members who took lessons from some other volunteers who took lessons from other people who happened to take lesson from the Chinese Master long time ago. (Hehehe… It is a mouthful, isn’t it?) These instructors might not have even met the Master in person ever. 


One senior member in my club just came back from Mexico after five months of extended stay in Mexico. We were joking about how lucky this member was to return to Canada before the swine flu hit Mexico. We have a lot of retired seniors who stay in the south during the cold winter season and come back to Canada when the spring arrives. We call them “the Canadian snow birds” because the retirees “migrate” to the south in the winter. Anyway, my young (he's my age) instructor immediately commented that he would never want to travel outside Canada. Some people chimed in right away to say that how backwards some other countries are.


I should have kept my mouth shut as usual when I heard his comment, but I jumped in to encourage my instructor that he should travel. I told him that I used to travel quite extensively. Travelling often offers me a totally different perspective about life, people, cultures and the world. I truly believe that travelling can help people become more open minded and respect the cultural differences. Travelling definitely has contributed to my appreciation for different cultures.


My instructor argued that Canada is a beautiful country as it is, so there is no reason for him to travel outside the country! He said that he could meet people like me from other countries without leaving Canada. At this point, another woman jumped in to press that it is too expensive to travel and Canada is a very beautiful country anyway, so why leave the country. These people just chorused each other. I think the old guy who just came back from Mexico felt a bit awkward.


I totally agree with them that Canada is a beautiful country and I don’t deny that anyone can enjoy just travelling from coast to coast across Canada. However, it is a completely different story when one ventures out of Canada to visit a different country to encounter a total different cultural experience. Sometimes the travelling experiences could be so overwhelmingly wonderful beyond one’s imagination. I had so many wonderful as well as awful travelling experiences, and each one of them was a great memorable story to tell.


Whenever I feel like talking to a wall, it is time for me to stop the conversation. There is no point to talk to someone who simply wants to argue for the sake of arguing. That was exactly what I did. Finally, I told my instructor, if he ever had a chance to venture out the country, he would understand what I meant. Maybe he would appreciate Canada even more, because I do! Deep down inside, I was ready to pound my instructor with my not-so-great Tai Chi Kung Fu, but then he said, “Why would I need to leave the country if I could meet exotic people like you here.” Mmmm…… All right, he did have a sweet tongue. So, I spared his life this morning. Hehehe....


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