Berlin, Germany （德国的柏林）
On Dec. 10, when I scanned through news, I came across stories about the Berlin Wall. 20 years ago, the Berlin Wall was pushed down by thousands of Germans. It marked a critical change in world history: The cold war era started its collapse.
For a couple of days, I read more news stories about Germany, and my visit to Berlin popped out in front of me.
It was Dec. 1984, I remember. A friend asked me if I’d like to go to West Berlin. I had never been to Berlin at the time. I thought, why not? So the two of us ‘pay Anhalter (as hitchhiker)’ at a cross of highway from Braunschweig to Berlin. It was the first and only time that I practiced ‘pay Anhalter’. We stood on the road side and raise arms, right thumb up, so drivers passing-by could see us and possibly picked us if our directions were the same. Usually, girls had higher success rate than boys. ‘Pay Anhalter’ was a very popular travel means for students in West Germany then.
Along the highway from Brauschweig to West Berlin, I saw iron mash fence on both sides. We were on the only road to West Berlin. Very isolated. Quite depressed,
We visited and stayed with my friends from DAAD class. I remember that Gao Xiao-yang took me around in West Berlin and showed me his office. He also introduced other Chinese students to me.
It was in Dec. and Christmas aura was everywhere. I visited night market in the square. Lights and Christmas decorations were very beautiful.
On one of those days there, I visited East Berlin. I couldn’t remember if I went with friends or just along. Friends told me that I only need to apply a transitional visa on the train station because I was a Chinese citizen and China was one the communist brother countries with East German. The countries had a mutual agreement among them for traveling. I paid 5 or 10 German marks for my visa at the train station. After getting a stamp on my Chinese passport, I was on the train to East Berlin.The very first impression when the train went into the east side was: Gray buildings; huge bricks on the building wall; Less crowded streets. When I arrived, I found there were not much to see, except squares with a few visitors like me. I didn’t have much memory about the shops in East Berlin, because I was a student then and not much into shopping yet. I didn’t remember if I had any meals there or not. The trip back to West Berlin was not clear now, either.