Fiya’s trip to China: A tale of two extremes.
I get confused by many things in this world. My top three are currently…
- Politics (specifically the 2016 election)…
- Female emotions and…
- How the Kardashians rose to fame.
Then I went to China. Believe me when I say, China is by far the most confusing!
I am Chinese. Full, 100%, purebred Chinese…but I was born and raised in America. I know how to speak Cantonese (on a very basic level) but I don’t know how to read Chinese (which turns out to be a very valuable skill while in China). Aside from the obvious inability to communicate, what threw me off the most was how this trip was pulled in to two extremes. Here is what I noticed.
Travel (Are we there yet?)
The worst part of this trip was the traveling. Yes, the worst part of “traveling” is the actual traveling. The combined 48 hours spent sitting in planes, 31 hours spent waiting for said planes, endless car rides, crammed bus rides, ferries, trains and a mini boat (Actually, I enjoyed this one).
This period of sitting is mirrored by countless miles of walking in 90+ degree heat (this part I enjoyed very much but I can’t say the same for my family).
Culture (What did…is that…um…WHAT!?!?)
Manners are rare in China. People aren’t rude on purpose, that is just the norm. I found that people in China are kind and generous but don’t care much for small talk.
I smile at strangers and greet most people. This is often times a pleasant experience in the United States but in China…people just glance at me with a face that says “What kind of drug is he taking, get him away from me.” Oh well.
The streets are dirty and it is acceptable to litter (workers will continuously clean the roads throughout the day).
Cute things! Cute things everywhere!! I though that was just a Japanese thing but man was I wrong!
Dogs and cats are friends…kinda. From what I have been told and what I’ve seen, these furry friends are seen as pets now (sadly, some regions still cook them). On the plus side for the ones that are pets, they are rarely neutered…so I guess an argument can be made that China is more dog friendly than America.
Unfortunately for the chickens, ducks and geese, they are still staples in the Chinese diet.
Most shocking is public urination. Kids just go when and wherever they please. I saw way more children genitalia then I care to admit. No pictures were taken…for obvious reasons.
Social Status (Money is not the same)
I’m not sure if a middle class exists in China. I’m sure it does but the gap between lower and middle is so stunningly wide. I was awed by the grand hotels that we stayed in and deeply humbled by the destitute destination we experienced. One would assume that the five star hotels provided a better place to stay but no…the poverty stricken houses we called home were much more favored by me (haha, not so much for my family).
Here is one of the many restaurants we had the pleasure to dine in.
Here is my aunt and grandma sharing a bed in the farmlands.
Yeah, the hotels and restaurants in the city are nice but their is a surreal experience when I found myself living like the locals. No AC, no plumbing, no electricity, but wow, I loved it.
City vs. Country
I’m a city boy; born in a big city (New York, NY) and raised in another (Jacksonville, FL). The thought of staying in an area that was void of electricity, plumbing, AC and…dare I say…internet…was disturbing. How does one even live without google? Needless to say, I was not too eager for this leg of the trip but after a few nights in the country side…I feel like…I…love the country more than the city. I wouldn’t live there though…not until internet is as common as cow droppings.
Then there were the cities. Each one with buildings that touched the sky. The voices of hundreds of people, the car horns honking and roars of motorcycle engines filled the air. I was constantly lost in it all; the sounds, the sights, the people. Everywhere I looked I saw people that looked…just…like..me.
Then there was the middle. The best of both country and city blended together. Nature and Netflix. Sun and air conditioning. Areas of solidarity and places with plenty of people. What more can I say about this? It’s perfect.
Next up was Hong Kong and Macao. If there is a Heaven, I’m sure one can reach it from any of the hundreds of beautifully built skyscrapers in Hong Kong.
If there is a hell, I’m sure it is identical to Macao.
Hong Kong was breath taking! The sight of skyscrapers eclipsing the sky, the fabulous food and friendly attitude was unexpected. The first portion of the trip to my dad’s home town mentally prepared me to be one with nature, to be humble and live in a constant state of relaxation. Here are some pictures…
Hong Kong was the complete opposite! The stars from the country side were replaced by the flashing lights embedded into the buildings. The buzz from the bugs replaced by the buzz of neon lights. The herds of farm animals replaced by…the clusters of people. I don’t know why I love Hong Kong as much as I do. Maybe it reminds me of growing up in New York. Maybe the shock of being in an unexplored place. I have no Idea but I will definitely go back and find out.
Macao was also breathtaking but for a very different reason. Pollution. My experience in Macao is not one that I’d like to relive. Hong Kong is like New York where as Macao is like Las Vegas. From the point I stepped off the boat, it felt like someone punched me in the gut, threw me in a dumpster and then proceeded replace the blue sky with a grey film.
Not only was I mentally sick of Macao but I actually caught a cold for a few days too. To make matters worse, the three days we were there for happened to be the same three that Nida decided to visit. Nida was a hurricane. Here is Senado Square…
Here is Senado Square an hour later…Hmmm…I wonder where that nine story sized poster went…
Misc (I’m not sure what these fall under)
Markets and apartments are often times one and the same.
Traveling on a river between two mountains.
The tourist stops we went to.