i wasn’t overly excited about the first part of my trip to asia. 16 days with a tour group isn’t really what i call travelling, more like a headache. the tour wasn’t all that bad, i was able to see all the touristy things that are the must sees in china; the great wall, terra cotta warriors, tien ah men square, and so forth.
travelling for me takes on a bit of a different style. it’s one that’s pretty much infused in the surrounding culture. eating at local restuarants, hell, going to the store and trying to cook with what’s available. walking down the back streets and getting lost in the neighborhoods. watching everyday life unfold. doing all of this with camera in hand. it may seem odd to you. maybe it’s the photojournalist in me.
up until yesterday i’ve been feeling that i’ve been missing out on a part of china. yesterday i visited a village just outside of guangzhou; it seems like more of a town (i guess compared to shanghai with 18 million people it’s a village.) the village is where my dad’s nanny from his childhood now lives. he hasn’t seen her in 22 years (my mom insists that i should remember the last time… i don’t… i was 2.) we were dropped off at the edge of town and a couple of ladies lead us through the narrow paths between rows and rows of old storied condos. wet laundry drips on my head, and people look up from their door ways or pots. we are greeted at a wide open door way by a little old woman, my dad’s nanny, and a host of other ladies. they all motion for us to come in, come in… sit, sit they say. this is what i’ve been waiting for. a non-catered view of china and the chinese people.
we all sat around an open living room. they chatted. i tried to follow with my limited knowledge of cantonese. an grandpa looking man brought out the best lychee fruit i’ve ever tasted. the room was a dim and only flashes of light reflected off faces. i was a bit mad at myself because i forgot faster film for my camera… damn, digital it is. we eventually moved to another house where a couple ladies had prepared the best chinese food i’ve had on this trip so far! nothing like home cooking. sharing a meal with these elderly people was awesome. their character and expressions when they talk. their laughter, and hand gestures. totally what i’ve been wanting to experience.
i’m so glad that i stuck out the 16 days of touring. it was all worth it for the afternoon in that village. i could have probably stayed 16 days in that village and felt that i’ve seen more of china than travelling to all the site of china. china is almost over for me. 3 more days and i’m off to osaka, japan. that’ll be a completely different story.
pictures to come…