Weekend adventure to southern China
This weekend Leon was kind enough to invite Laura and I on a weekend adventure to southern China to visit his relatives. It was quite the unforgetable adventure and I felt like we really experienced the Chinese culture first hand. Our travels began on Friday with a nice taxi ride and then continued via airplane to Guangzhou.
The airline experience by itself was interesting. To fly domestically is very much like the US, it was interesting when they were looking through our liquids because the girl was definitely looking very hard at the contents of my bag which contained saline solution, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion and eye makeup. They were confused with Laura's liquids too, especially with the hand sanatizer, they actually took it out and set it on fire! Obviously they would not allow her to take it on the plane. The plane was very hot, the smell of BO was incredible, and I would like to learn where the pilot learned to land a plane because we came in for a landing at a very fast speed. We made one stop and were able to leave the airplane. When we were waiting towards the end of the line a security guard or airline worker motioned for us to come with him and we were able to go to the front of the line and reboard the plane without waiting in line; we definitely felt like VIPs. I couldn't help but wonder how profitable the airlines are here because we were fed on both lags of the trip which totaled about 3 hours. In the US, you are lucky if they serve you a snack and beverage.
Guangzhou was a beautiful city bustling with people and city life. Two of Leon's friends met up with us at the hotel and became our tour guides (or doyo??) and friends. The girls were extremely helpful and they said we were their first foreign friends. The took us around the city, we were able to see what the streets were like throughout the various dynasties through a glass sidewalks in a pedistrian only shopping market zone. They payed our way through the subway system and then utilized guanxi to travel on a bus to Kaiping which is a 2 hour bus ride away. The view from the bus was exciting, we left a huge city and drove along the roads to see villages, banana trees, rice patties, different terrain, flooding and much more. We saw the damage of a bridge that collapsed within the last year due to a barge ramming into a pillar.
We stayed the night in Kaiping and had the opportunity to meet Leon's relatives. There was a definite language barrier but Laura and I did not feel out of place in the least. It was fun to see how they communicate with eachother, examine behaviors and see their way of life. I felt like we were really able to experience guanxi and immerse ourselves into the culture. The southerners really enjoy cuisine and we ate many new foods. They eat chicken feet (not my favorite) for breakfast and gather as large families around a table. When we met with his family for breakfast, the culture was very different. There were only large families, there were not even tables for just two people, and one of his cousins told us that it is typical to enjoy breakfast for two hours.
This was just part of our adventue, we have to work on our presentation for tomorrow so I will write more about our experiences at a later time.