Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Shanghai!

I arrived in Shanghai this afternoon with my brother and sister and several of my new family members from the Dongguan trip. The weather is a lot colder than it was down south (9 degrees as opposed to 25 yesterday) and it's raining. Haven't had a chance to do much more than settle into our hotel room so I will have to give my impressions of this very bustling city a little later.

I was sad to say goodbye to everyone from the tour today, but as it was all very rushed and seemingly unorganised, it went quickly and I didn't get to get too upset. I will see some of them in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, but for the others I'm not sure. I'll miss the reunions they're going to have where they'll break out the traditional dancing and kung fu (I'm sure you'll all want to buy our behind the scenes DVD).

The whole week in the Guangdong province was phenomenal. Although logistically the trip could have gone better (and you can't do much when you're being shown around), I had so much fun and made some wicked new friends. My speaking English in a Chinese accent is getting way better, and I've eaten a bunch of new and interesting pieces of plants and animals (I'm still avoiding faces and feet).

We went to the county (rough translation) that we all originated from yesterday. It was really interesting to see how close all our villages are and where we each came from. It turns out that the area is famous in China for producing jeans and a couple of my friends were offered them by relatives and friends of family living in the villages. I was struck by the level of pollution though - because there is no rubbish disposal, everything just goes in the river. The toilets are sometimes buildings suspended over the river so everything falls straight in. Hand sanitiser anyone? I was told that there used to be farmland and greenery everywhere between the villages, but it's very industrial looking now, in the middle of development. I also didn't pet any of the chickens that were running around!

My brother, sister and I found some old people to talk to in our grandfather's village. My mum's theory of finding the oldest people and asking them worked! Despite our terrible Cantonese, and with the help of some names written down by my dad, we managed to communicate and had someone take us to the house that my father was born in. It was amazing to finally see the tiny alleyway he had told us about. The house has been locked up for thirty years, nobody has a key. Amazingly, the village people (snigger) remembered my uncle and my father's names, even though their family left the village when my dad was only three years old. I can't describe the feeling of finally being there.

Our last night in the area was spent at the karaoke bar in the hotel. We rocked out to the best of the few English songs there, and a couple of the boys wowed us with their phenomenal Hong Kong pop renditions. Ah, I'm so asian now, la!

I can't forget the food either - we had the best food right near our villages. I don't know if it's because that's what tastes we like by nurture, or if their food is just better! The area is known for a special kind of choi sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), and also for their special kind of lychee (which we didn't try any of). A single lychee from a particular grove of trees can be auctioned for charity for 550,000RMB (about 100,000NZD)!

Have to run and see if I can scam this internet for free (the backpacker in me lives even though I'm in a four star hotel!). Will write when I can ...

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Wend, that sounds amazing. Kind of eerie and heart-warming at the same time!! I have just discovered reading your journals and this thing is awesome.

Keep having an awesome time, hopefully I will catch you over that side of the world before too long.

xx Coll

PS: totally lost my mobile last night. Useless!!