Whilst being a white girl in small town China has produced mixed responses (mainly just outright staring in the streets), for the majority of my stay Chinese hospitality has been amongst the best I have experienced worldwide. A particularly great example was this weekend during which I spent all my time in the company of locals partaking in native activities.
I am based at a university during my stay here, and the other evening some Chinese students from another campus invited the international students for an evening event which was based around a visit to their campus (far larger and more modern than the one I am based at), during which we were introduced to traditional Chinese crafts and were given the opportunity to try out our language skills.
I particularly enjoyed calligraphy and Chinese paper cutting, although as you can see from the photos the Chinese excelled where the Europeans failed!
Then the next day I spent my time with two local families, one of the fathers was a professor at my university and the other is a top lawyer in the city. Their families took four of us out for lunch, for a tour around their house and offices and then on a walk to show us the best views of West Lake. Whilst I had enjoyed my culinary experience so far, eating at a top Chinese restaurant has really opened my eyes to haute cuisine!
Whilst up in the hillside we came across a small Taoism community with the most beautiful rooms dedicated to their different Gods. I was limited with my photography usage there however I tried to capture the beautiful colours and designs, in particular the stunning yellow that seems traditional for temples here. The father showing us around is also a key photographer and blogger, so if you have managed to negotiate the Chinese Internet restrictions to read this I hope you enjoy the photos!
One of the most interesting parts of my time spent with the locals was getting their opinions on Chinese culture in comparison to the West, it is now globally recognized that Chinese people work harder than us (students have roughly eight hours of class a day!) However their lifestyle has enabled me to appreciate the freedom of the culture I live in, not only the freedom to have an opinion but also the freedom to spare time and enjoyment…. How very cliché of me to discover myself within a communist country through experiences with the residents! (I can only promise that my next blog post will be less gap-yah mainstream)