This weeks DP Challenge is by girl in the hat writer Anna Fonté about creating a list. As I found visiting regional China an amazing experience, my list describes my memories of this special time.
1. Appreciation of road rules and seat belts
Driving in China is scary and it is a wise decision that foreign tourists cannot hire a car and drive. On the freeway between Nanjing and Wuhu, the private car we were in was traveling at 100 kilometres an hour, 4 abreast on a 3 lane highway. Honking is the warning system used to indicate that someone is about to change lanes. Everyone is on a mission to get where they are going and surprisingly, it works. The taxis have no seat belts which took some adjusting too..
2. Bicycles and mopeds
With limited money, bicycles and mopeds are a major source of transportation in regional China. We saw moped that managed to carry a whole family-mum, dad, baby, sibling and the family dog. It was amazing. Bicycles were everywhere and it was also not unusual to see people and cats sleeping on them during the day.
3. Celebrity status
In regional China, ‘white people’ are a rarity and as the Chinese believe that we (white people) bring good luck, we felt like celebrities. Everywhere we went people would ask (usually by pointing to the camera) to have their photo taken with us. Sometimes they would attempt a conversation which we loved.
4. Communication through hand signals
How do you communicate with people who cannot understand the language you speak? In regional China few people speak English. You very quickly become used to hand signals and thinking creatively to get your point across. Oh and when you are talking money, the calculator is a universal language.
Facebook is blocked in most of China so you are taken back to a time in your life where you are not constantly connected to everyone. It initially is a weird feeling and then you fill your time with other things and adjust into a new rhythm.
While you can get western food in regional China it is rare especially in the smaller cities so you are forced to look for other alternatives and try new food. Seeing live animals in the supermarkets to be sold for food was a new experience.
7. History and Culture
The more I learnt about the history and culture, the more inspired I was. In the Shaolin Temple, there is a tree that is 1500 years old. Understanding the growth of China this century through the leadership of Sun Yat-Sen is eye opening. He was a very inspirational leader loved by all.
8. Natural Beauty
China is a very beautiful country when you leave the cities and explore. The scenic spots as they are called require travelling to, usually with a guide but your reward is their beauty.
Understanding how you speak, changes as you communicate with people of other languages. We needed to slow down and pronunciation words clearly so they were understood. Learning that the Chinese often sound loud and at times aggressive just in their normal speaking voice, changes how you respond to situations.
10. Trust yourself
With limited communication everything you take for granted at home is an issue. Catching a taxi. reading maps and purchasing food. These and many more take you out of your comfort zone and allow you to grow as a person as through trusting yourself.
I hope you enjoyed my memories.