Laughter at my breaking point
"Important encounters are planned by the soul
long before the bodies see each other"
Two words: UNFORGETTABLE. EXPERIENCE.
Working as a model, I had never really known the extent of opportunities I would be able to come across. This work trip I'm about to share with you all was for a TV commercial for Ford. It was hands down the most unexpected experience I have had in my life so far! Seriously, I had nooo idea what was in store for the next week and a half of filming. So many ups and downs, and so many special friendships formed.
Although I titled this travel entry as Xinjiang, China, I actually went to Shanghai, Xining, Urumqi (in Xinjiang), and the last location was Hainan. Although all the places were extremely enchanting, I chose to focus more on Xinjiang. It is so far north of China, you all probably have never heard much about it otherwise so this is my chance to enlighten you about this place through my eyes. Except, I highly recommend you pay a visit if you are feeling adventurous...it's worth it. I think it would be best to travel there with a group so you can rent your own transportation to get to the distant tourist sites.
Once I arrived in Urumqi, the first thing that caught my attention were the beautiful and unique faces of the people. Since Urumqi is up in northern China, nearest to Mongolia, Kazahkstan, and Russia, you can imagine the mixture of bloodlines over generations that have created the unique facial features and characteristics of the Xinjiang people. It was hard to tear my eyes away from these special facial features, but I distinctly recall being just as amazed at the street signs, which were presented in Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. Talk about diversity.
If you ever make the trip to Xinjiang, there are a few sights that you would be out of your mind to miss. One, the salt lake. Two, the Natali Grasslands. And lastly, the canola fields. Everything in between is a beautiful sight on it's own as well. From the children riding bareback on the horses and the vast amounts of yurt villages in the mountains, I was wide-eyed like a newborn baby seeing their mother for the first time.
As I mentioned earlier, this trip was filled with ups and downs. By far, the most mentally and physically demanding model jobs I've had so far. The cast and crew were amazing, they were really the only way I was able to push through and keep my spirits high throughout the trip. Everyone involved was so hardworking and stayed positive even though I'm sure they were also running on empty towards the end of the work trip. I cannot stress more about how professional and kind everyone was. Since we had to hit so many destinations in 2 weeks, the only moments of true rest I could squeeze in were on the flights and in the car rides to shooting locations. I specifically remember being in the hotel room halfway through the trip, staring into the mirror at the brink of tears because I felt so exhausted. You can imagine how badly I craved my own soft, clean, comfy bed and a 10 hour long body massage the moment I returned to Hong Kong!
These parts of China are way more rural than the parts of China that I've become accustomed to. The main meat consumed in Xinjiang is lamb and just about every single dish is very spicy. Crystal, my fake daughter in the tv commercial, and I aren't used to eat such spicy foods so most of our meals ended up consisting of banana chips and dehydrated apple slices, and dried beans that I picked up from these random shops whenever we stopped for gas (in the middle of nowhere!). Funny enough, when packing for this trip I had four apples that I didn't have time to finish before flying off so I actually tossed them into my luggage to bring with me because who wants to waste perfectly good apples? I'm so glad I did though, those apples kept me from starvation! The lamb and vegetables that I was able to handle, however, were appetizing. I especially liked the barbecued lamb skewers.
I’m one of those people who enjoy the in-between moments. This trip filled my soul with many in-between moments that I can carry in stories for the rest of my life. The crew and I jammed out to a lot of Taylor Swift in the long car rides and while hanging out on-set in the trailers/RVs. The wifi service isn’t great out in the areas we filmed at which I really enjoyed. I got to detach and have some good, solid fun with new work friends.
If I can ever go back to Xinjiang, I would. But I definitely suggest to go with a group of people so you can rent vans to travel to far locations together. It’s a beautiful place to have on your bucket list. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such fresh air in Asia before.