Hello everyone. It’s been a little more than a month since I was last here. I’m worn out, broke and have a cold, but I still have a wide smile on my face because of all the fun I’ve had this holiday.
Shenzhen and Hong Kong
I started in Shenzhen, located in southern China, to visit my best friend Color and see the place he works. It wasn’t the most amazing place, but fine to see him for a weekend.
But then I crossed the border into Hong Kong. (Shenzhen is right next to Hong Kong and is the gateway most people from China as flying to HK from the mainland is much more expensive than flying to Shenzhen then crossing the border on foot.) I went to Hong Kong last year, and while I love it, I didn’t really mean to go back this year. I went because despite the “thawing” relations between Taiwan and China it’s difficult and very expensive to take a plane direct from mainland to Taiwan. But going from Hong Kong or Macau is cheaper, and you get a little holiday in a cool place so I did it.
The past 2 times I’ve been to HK I stayed in Color’s apartment for free. This time, I had to get a hostel so I stayed at the legendary Chungkung Mansions, which I’ll write more about later. I got a cold the first day I arrived and felt pretty exhausted and terrible. Also, HK is expensive. So I did a little tourist stuff, but I really used the time to catch up on movies (Hobbit, finally!)
Then it was time to go to Taiwan! I was really excited for this, and settled right in making a lot of friends (both foreigners and locals). I also worked on getting used to traditional characters which was tough at first. I feel like my Chinese reading is pretty good, but when it came to trying out the meaning of traditional I failed pretty miserably. When I first arrived I took the shuttle bus to the Taipei Main Station. In traditional chinese its: 台北車站 I knew all the words except the 3rd one: 車 I guessed it was 单 which means single or lists and is pronounced dan. Turns out it is: 车, means car and is pronounced che. Sigh…I felt like a level 2 student again trying to work out sentences I should have easily known.
I also chatted with a lot of local people, all who used traditional characters. They would use traditional, I would answer in simplified. No one was bothered by this, but after a few days I began to feel really…well….simple. They had these complex looking sentences while I had these simple looking replies. It did give me a slight inferiority complex!
Anyway, my oral chinese got me through any problems as Taiwanese people speak an amazing clear form of Mandarin. Clearer than most mainlanders. And I’m glad I can speak Chinese because the Taiwanese people are amazing. I’m not kidding when I say I moved right in. I actually began to feel like a local because I spent all this time with local people and foreigners who live there. I even showed a few of them around.
I’ve got a few thoughts on Taiwan and the culture which I’ll save for another post. Stay tuned!
Cangnan and Spring Festival
Afterward I fought the crowds and headed back to mainland for Spring Festival (chinese new year). I will admit that after being in Taiwan for a few weeks, coming back to mainland was a shock, and something I’m still dealing with (yes, they are that different, but in small ways. I’ll explain more later.)
But I’m glad I came back to hang out with Color and his family for Spring Festival. Experiencing all the traditions of the holiday in a tiny village was an amazing experience. And best of all, I got to take part in a traditional chinese funeral. Hundreds of people participated and there was music, and decorations and a giant procession, and we walked along rivers and through rice patties (all the while making a lot of noise with music and firecrackers and cannons, yes cannons!) to her tomb set against a mountain. It was unbelievable and unexpected as these things usually are. I’ll write more about this too ‘natch.
I got home 2 days ago to a dreary, quiet school with the unpleasant surprise of no water. (Still none as I’m writing this..it’s been at least 3 straight days.) It was a little rude awaking after all the fun I’ve had but I guess it is a good quiet environment for me to get some work done and prepare for the spring semester which begins in 2 weeks.
One little note: A few months ago, right after New Years actually, my boyfriend and I broke up. It wasn’t anything dramatic, just the best thing for us, and we are still friends. For real! We chatted several times while I was away, so it’s all good. I just wanted to mention that so in case I write anything a little strange about Taiwanese guys or something you won’t think I was fooling around. When my friend came to join me I mentioned going on a date with a guy and she was like, “ummm, what about your boyfriend?” Ha ha ha.
It’s good to be back! Got a lot of pics to share with you in the next few days!