Well, when I first came to China a couple of years back ,it wasn't easy for me . China wasn't a country commonly visited by many . The most difficult part for me was communication and as such had difficulties going around . I also had no confidence in myself as I encountered a lot of gazes from people everywhere I went.I also had a thought that I was black and "obviously" they don't like me. When I came to China, I came with some preconcived ideas about the Chinese people. Like thinking Chinese were still wearing those ancient clothes .That all Chinese can do kungfu . That all Chinese eat dogs. That Chinese are very short people . I always laugh at myself now that I know better . I was surprised when I was walking in the streets and never came across any of those ancient clothes we saw in movies . I asked my friend about dog eating and he told me not everyone eat dogs just like in any other country .Yes,there are some parts of China where dog eating is popular .Places like Guangxi . I was relieved as I was never going to that Guangxi province..I laugh. I also discovered that while most Chinese are physically flexible , not all of them can do kungfu.So ,you can imagine the experience . I lost a lot of weight as I just couldn't eat Chinese food.
Below is my friend teaching me how to use chopsticks.I lost so much weight....My first dinner with friends.
As time went on I made a lot of friends and things began to easy a little . It was then that I slowly learnt that Chinese people are generally accepting people.Yes , they have their moments but who doesnt't . I told myself that I wanted to know more about them. I vowed to learrn the language in order to make my quest easy and that's exactly what I did . I started studying Chinese language and culture . What an experience . Though Chinese language is very difficult and complicated , I vowed to learn it . I enjoyed every moment .In the process I made a lot of Chinese friends and other foreigners too.
As I studied Chinese,I learnt a lot about Chinese people and culture .I began to enjoy my life as a foreigner .Even though they were times I really felt out of place,I should admit that God blessed me with Chinese friends who took me as family . They cared so much about me and would help me do a lot of things.I began to look at things differently.I never felt really lonely .One of the most important things I also learnt about Chinese was trust.Once they get to know you and trust you,they make you family . Family is very important in the Chinese culture .
VISITING CHINESE FAMILIES
Life was getting better and I chose to concentrate on the beauty around.I had many Chinese families inviting me to visit their homes.So,I decided to do it with purpose.My desire was to learn about the Chinese family structure.In the streets I had come across elderly people with their grandchildren.This really fascinated me.I had come from a place where grandparents did not have this kind of intimate relationship with their grandchildren.As a kid we periodically visited our grandparents.Here I was seeing grandparents all around with their grandchildren.I sort to know.On one of my visits,I went to a young modern family house.Oh,what a wonderful family.I met parents of both the husband and the wife.They had one child that time and the mother was expecting another baby and there was so much joy in the house.As I write another new baby has been born and it's a girl which has made their home GOOD.Their first child was a boy now they have a girl so it's balanced.When I was there I noticed how they all kept their attention on only one little boy.What is family without eating and drinking together?I had a taste of their wine which I just couldn't swallow.The reception was awesome.
BELOW IS A PICTURE WITH THE YOUNG BEAUTIFUL FAMILY IN BEIJING
The little boy was a kid with ten eyes all paying close attention to him.He was a happy little kid.I was so happy to see that this little boy was very comfortable around me.The mother told me that it was because they travel a lot so the boy has been around many people.My hair fascinated the little boy including the grandparents too.I let them touch my hair.It was so wonderful to talk about my country and to learn about theirs too.
Chinese tea is part of the culture that is very important.Not only is tea taken as a daily beverage,it is also drank ceremoniously.Chinese tea is known for its health benefits.From weight issues both gaining and losing weight to its effects as a beauty product.Not to mention its high medicinal effects.
Chinese tea dates way back in history and different dynasties like the Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty enjoyed different types of teas. It is said that tea was discovered long time ago when a Chinese Emperor named Shen Nong was boiling water and a leaf from a close shrub fell into his water.
There are different types of Chinese tea and is usually classified under white, black, post-fermented , green and oolong.These are further distinguished into different groups like scented or compressed. The popular one for most of us is the green tea.
At one of my visits,I had an opportunity to be served Chinese tea.I should say I was wowed by the preparation itself.
It started with the washing of hands before preparing the tea.Then the table is set.At this family's house,everything needed for the tea is always ready on the tea table.I was told different tea is prepared with different water temperatures.I observed how they wash the tea before preparation.Reason being tea is made with plants and exposed to different dirty agents like dust and some chemicals .
Utensils are cleaned at the table using the tea.I saw them pour tea into a larger bowl
and use it to clean the other tea utensils.Other wastes during tea drinking will be put in that bowl.
Just like anything else too much might be harmful.Chinese tea is no exception.So for people on certain medication,it is adviced to learn more about a certain tea before consuming it.
NB This article about Chinese tea is just a skeletal reflection of the whole thing.There is more to it.I was just writing from an experience I had and what I was told.More detailed information is out there..
MY VISIT TO THE MOUNTAINS
After my first visit where I learnt about family structure and tea,I traveled to the mountaneous area of Changping District in Beijing.Here I was to meet a family that has been in Beijing all their life .I was quiet excited to go to this place as I was really curious to see if their peasant life was to ours back home.For us we keep livestock and we have a homestead and some peaces of land to farm.As a person who grew up in a rural set up i wanted to see how they too lived .
So I took the subway Changping Line which took me to a small town of Changping Dongyuan.OH, It was really hot.That's what made it more exciting and fun .After the subway I was to take a very long bus ride to the place.I had to ask the local people about the bus stop but I kept getting lost.I contacted my friend whose family I was visiting and it was so fun to see that I was standing just opposite the bus stop.Transportation to a far village is not very readly available hence you have to wait for a long time .Just as I expected , the bus was full.I was standing for the greater part of the ride .
I was told the bus stop to drop off but it sounded as if all bus stops had same name. Along the way in the village,I saw some basket ball grounds and I was astonished .How basket is this popular here.
Basketball I learnt,is the most popular sport among the Chinese youth.I never imagined this.A lot of youths idolise the likes of Kobe Bryant,LeBron James.It is only now that I began to notice the influence of basketball to the way most youth dress up.In my mind I had this preconcived notion that Chinese were too short for basketball and that their favourite sport is kungfu.Knowledge is power.My traveling has really been an eye opener for.Here I was in a village with a neatly kept basketball area .
The ride was really interesting and tiring too.I had a lot of eyes on me and I'm sure we all know why.I was a "hei wai guo ren" meaning a black foreigner in the bus heading to a village away from the city.I never found this weird or anything as I am used to it. Instead I will smile here and there and play with little kids just to show I am free to talk to if you want.All of them will most likely think I can not speak Chinese.Not their fault though,their language is so difficult to learn,but because of my the goal i had set for myself,I just had to learn .
I was really excited when I began to see people get off the bus .I wasn't like the village I expected to see.The village in my hometown of thatched roofs and huts.As I drew closer and closer,the place was really good.In that excitement,I missed my bus stop . I only realised it when I was the only person left in the bus.The bus security man told me I had passed my station . It wasn't bad though because when I got off,it was really a nice mountaneous area.I called my friend who then drove to come and pick me up as I was not really far from the home.However, the car was going to take us up the village.We were to live the car at a parking area at some shops and take a three wheel cart to the home as it was up the mountain .
ON THE OPEN THREE-WHEEL CART
GOING UP THE MOUNTAIN.
It was really hot and was part of the adventure.Villagers were really caught unaware by a stranger in their midst.I waved at some old men playing games under a tree and there were some giggles.How wonderful I felt.Away from the buzz and hype of inner Beijing.I had to ask my friend why the place looked more of town than village .
I was told the place has not always been like that.It's a village for peasants farmers who raised their children selling produce from their small farms.Fruits like jujube [chinese dates ] are common here.What I was seeing now was the hardwork of the children of the villagers. They have grown up and have now gone back to develop their village . Big houses have been built in this village and it's so beautiful to be out there.The mountaineous area makes the landscape more attractive .
I loved collecting eggs.It was like something I've never done before.It made me see things differently and Chinese were no different from anybody else.If my mother was to come to this place,she will still feel at home as she gets to have her groundnuts,sweetpotatoes,boiled corn and many other things.
After the collection of eggs,it was time to make some food.Chinese food is rich and therefore preparing it is a mission on its own.Despite my long stay here,I should say I'm still not a fan of most of Chinese dishes.I just feel the taste is not 'yummy' for me.
Melody Saxton. Educator ,Writer , Counselor ,Woman of God ,Speaker and Traveler...
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