We anxiously await the delivery of our new home.
Frank and I have just returned from three weeks in China and what is probably our last visit to that country. When our oldest son decided to study in China, I was apprehensive about his being so far away in a country where I could not communicate if he had trouble and whose government is so different from ours in the U.S. But having now visited China several times, I admit I feel very safe there. I have never felt I was in danger of anything other than getting lost.
Our visits to China have been very positive. The people are nice and willing to help, though we have to play charades to ask a question, order food or generally get around. Sometimes the charades, combined with the small amount of English a local might speak will allow us to communicate. But often, our communication doesn’t really work. If you have any interest in visiting China, I strongly recommend a guide if you don’t speak Mandarin.
On the whole, I find the Chinese to be a happy population. I see a lot of laughter and I enjoy how playful and unsophisticated some of their interactions appear. I also enjoy their love of cartoon-like characters. Somehow these things make me feel that the people here are young at heart and it makes me wish I could communicate with them more.
HH has taken excellent care of us during each of our visits, making sure we have transportation and are very well fed! We sincerely appreciate the service and care HH has provided and we will miss seeing the staff who has always been welcoming and accommodating.
This trip, Frank and I spent most of our time in Xiamen at the HH factory. If we weren’t there, we did not venture very far from our hotel but instead spent our down time studying for our next level of captains licensing or working out in the gym or enjoying the scenery from high in the hotel.
I wish I could capture the flavor of China to share with you, but the variety of experiences is broad. Instead, I will share a few photos I took while walking or being driven by the HH driver. (Please excuse the less than excellent quality of the photos.)
Doors are an important feature of buildings.
Although Feng Shui is a concept I learned about only 15 years ago, it is entrenched in Chinese society and beliefs. According to this belief, direction and appearance of the front doorway is especially important because it allows energy to flow freely into the home and throughout the interior. Even on relatively modest homes or places of business, the doorways were often elaborate. I could only catch a couple as we were driving.
Landscape is lush and well maintained.
I don’t know if the soil is exceptionally good or if the Chinese have a special talent for gardening, but so much of the surroundings are beautifully tended and sculptured. The sides of highways were often tiered with a variety of plants, parks are sprinkled among high rises and flowers are often in planters outside of homes or businesses.
Although Xiamen has a ton of tall apartment buildings and buildings in general with the definite feel of a large population, there are also green spaces to relieve the density of the buildings. Admittedly, there are also many buildings with laundry drying from balconies, or tall, new buildings near shorter, older ones that look near collapse, so the city doesn’t feel pristine, but instead feels very much “lived in.”
Older buildings in foreground, newer buildings past the highway and green space mixed in.
But as I’ve said before, China is defined by both the old and new, the modern and the traditional. Daily life is a juxtaposition of repurposing old things and embracing new ones.
A belt driven engine of some kind.
A young woman was pedaling these wooden crates.
I’m not sure how this is steered.
In addition to these unique vehicles, there are plenty of new cars including some extremely expensive ones, but I would not like to navigate any of the roads myself. Lanes seems to be simply suggestions and not a hard and fast rule in China. I have never seen people drive cars SO close together, on purpose, without a bunch of horn honking. I have complete respect for the folks who drive in Xiamen!
More cranes than Dallas!
For a while, when we lived in Texas, we used to say the state bird was the crane because there were so many building cranes being used for construction. But I am certain there were more building cranes in use in Xiamen than I ever saw in Dallas!
Xiamen University is large complex of buildings and they are still adding facilities. I read that there are over 40,000 full time students at Xiamen University, though with such a large campus I never saw it look at all crowded although we passed it ever day on our way to the HH facility.
Xiamen University is huge and brand new.
All of the red roofs in the background are part of Xiamen University.
Interesting architecture on newer buildings.
Zoom in on the necklace, earrings and hat!
I just had to throw in this photo session we saw while visiting Piano Island. I have no idea what the purpose of the ‘shoot’ was, but I found this woman’s whole outfit intriguing. Now I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to assume that my fashion taste was anything like that of most advertisements I see, so I am not assuming that this is representative of the average Chinese consumer. But I did love the mixture of elements in this outfit! The bustier top combined with the socks and high heels, along with the power fist necklace and the giant earrings?! Pretty interesting.
To me, this speaks of the combination of sophistication yet playfulness I tried to allude to concerning the Chinese.
Please do NOT think I am being derogatory of the Chinese. That is not my intention. I am simply trying to show what I observed and interpreted as a childlike quality retained by the people that I found heartwarming and likable.
One last photo…. what do you notice is missing from our hotel?
Do you see a pattern here?
I had no idea why these floors were missing. Turns out the Chinese believe in avoiding what they consider unlucky. In this case, it is the number 4. Therefore there was not a 4th, 14th or 24th floor in our hotel. I’m not sure how they managed to eliminate three whole floors, but it was very tricky!
In conclusion, my initial concern for my son’s safety while he lived in China changed completely after I visited him there in 2013. Today, after several additional visits to China, I have become quite fond of many aspects of it, although I do not really know much about China because when language and reading are not understood, a culture cannot truly be absorbed. The only judgement I have is based on my interaction with those who could speak to me and my general impressions and intuition, both of which were favorable.
However, even if I could speak Mandarin, I would never trade the U.S. for China. Frank and I thoroughly missed our home country. We prefer the culture and manners of our native land and were happy to return.
Now that our last visit to the HH factory is completed, we are counting the days until Ticket to Ride will be delivered to the U.S. via container ship!
Thank you HH and Morrelli and Melvin for creating our awesome future home!