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Preface to the Chinese Edition 中文版序(胡洪侠)

(2011-02-21 13:50:07)


Preface to the Chinese Edition


Part I
Introduction to a place of stunning beauty is unnecessary. Just go and see it with your own eyes. Preface to Santorini—A Place Never to Miss is superfluous as well. Just read and feel it with your heart. This is what I believe. But Liu Shen disagrees with me. He insisted I write preface for his book Santorini—A Place Never to Miss. The main reason, I guess, is because I went there with him. That trip sticks in my mind. Yet, after reading Liu Shen’s book, I began to realize that the trip to Santorini is carved on his heart. My memory of the trip is no comparison to his. Along our trip, sometimes he was silent, sometimes he was talkative; sometimes he led the way, sometimes he lagged behind; sometimes he clamored for more drinks, sometimes he bustled for poker games; sometimes he was topped with a hat, sometimes he was dressed in T-shirt. There was no telling what he would come up with next. However, taking pictures is the only thing he did all the time no matter where we went, no matter what we saw. Click. Click. Click. The click sound accompanied us all the way long. All of us thought he was acting like any tourist, and it was great fun to travel with him. What we didn’t see was the pain he was bearing deep in his heart at the time. He was not alone. In his heart, he had someone travelling with him. He was silent because he was keeping her company in her break; he talked loudly because he was sharing with her; he charged forward because he was following her; he lingered behind because he was waiting for her to catch up; he played poker games because she wanted a little fun; he proposed toasts because she needed blessings. His cap was to protect her from the sun; his T-shirt was to shield her from the wind…
Part II
We were leaving the next day. “The night when we parted, Yuhong and I sat in a restaurant on Shazui St. Her beautiful face looked haggard. Her radiance dimmed. There, sad and depressed, she sat. I knew she couldn’t have eaten anything that day. I ordered a bowl of porridge and fried fish, hoping she could take some. She ate nothing. We sat there, speechless.”
Arriving at Santorini, “you’ll witness the horrible ruins indicating the devastating eruption that swallowed the whole place thousands of years ago. You could feel in this place the perfect harmony between the realm of spirit and the reality of modern life. Disaster and happiness amazingly come up to you side by side. The contrast is shuddering. This island has suffered more than anywhere in the world. The pain imposed on the people of this island surpasses that of any bloody and cruel war. Yet, any other place is no comparison to Santorini. The caldera and the blue sea have uttered their dialogue between Heaven and Hell. Yet, both the plaintive cries and hearty laughter have died away.”
As soon as we returned, “I flew to Beijing immediately to see Yuhong. Pressed with time and work at Shenzhen, I couldn’t stay long with her in Beijing. I told her about Greece and Santorini. … She browsed in the laptop the pictures taken in Greece. She was so concentrated that I could hardly see any sign of illness on her face. She noticed a little girl in the picture of a narrow alley. The girl was wearing a white dress. She wowed at the dress, “It’s beautiful and chic.” This is Yuhong. She loves beauty and she loves to make herself look beautiful. At that moment, I felt sad. I couldn’t look her in the eyes. I remembered the sad story and beautiful scenery of Santorini.”
All this is why I say a preface is truly unnecessary for Santorini—A Place Never to Miss. The book is already perfectly complete. It is just like a symphony of fate.
Part III
While we were in Santorini, Liu Shen mentioned that he was planning to write about it. I strongly opposed his idea of writing on his travels. There are already too many of them. Why bother? Save the trouble and the paper to serve as contribution to our green planet. He smiled and said, “No trouble at all.” Now I understand that he had a companion within his heart during the travels and he was not afraid of any trouble. His heart was troubled. He brought a saddened heart to that stunningly beautiful island, and in turn he was determined to bring the splendor of this island back to the beautiful her. “This book could hardly be considered as my travel notes. It is, rather, a record of my complex emotional journey at the time. I give my heartfelt gratitude to Santorini. God gave me this opportunity at this very moment and in such a mood to arrive at such a place. I felt blessed. I felt favored mystically by God. I saw a hint of miracle --- a revelation that inspired me with life, its value and its meaning.” He didn’t tell us this in Santorini. He bore the secret and the pain by himself. His travel in Santorini thus became a spiritual pilgrimage. If he had told me about his mind and heart, I would have helped him collect more materials and take more pictures. What a pity!
Although this book does not need a preface, I struggled to have written this piece. It’s my homage to his pilgrimage of beauty. After all, I went to Santorini with him. What’s more, I know her, too.

Jan. 4th, 2009







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