China: To the Other Side of the World, and to the Other Side of Me - My Family Travels

I’ve always wondered about the possibility of having two real homes, and looking back at that moment, my heart couldn’t have felt happier to have the chance to go to China, where a lifetime adventure was waiting for me to spend with family and friends. Nevertheless, the thought of leaving home comforts and traveling to a distant land clenched to my brain, bringing bouts of homesickness. But as the plane plunged off the runway lights into the night’s darkness, my dark doubts were purged by light. With finality, I turned my thoughts around, and as I left the small city of Eugene, Oregon, my adventure begins to Shanghai, China!!!

            Around June 2006, my mom and I embarked on what would be a trip filled with unparalleled experiences: Visiting family, sightseeing, and procuring memories to be cherished for a lifetime. We booked two seats on Air China, China’s premier airline, from Vancouver BC, Canada to Shanghai. While a plane ride was not my idea of spending a morning, the thought of arriving in China was reassuring. Finally, thirteen hours later, our plane landed in the newly constructed Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, known throughout China as a major urbanization and technological sector. Waiting for the machine to sputter out our luggage, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the airport and people around me, ranging from foreigners staring blankly at a Chinese billboard to locals waiting anxiously for their arrivals; China’s becoming increasingly diverse.  Now, with our hands laboring over two suitcases, we reached my uncle, aunt and cousin.

            We had planned to stay at my grandma’s house, and by all means, she was a gracious host. After seeing the bustling city, with its skyscrapers and endless traffic, we were glad to arrive at her apartment village. The sight of my grandma, along with her adroit cooking of authentic Chinese food and motherly personality, seemed to purge my remaining homesickness bouts altogether, and as family, we started to share our laughs, conversing, and memories.

            As I adjusted to my new home in the East, we were bombarded with neighbor visits constantly in the first week or so, as word spread that my mom was back in China with her son. Unable to find a quiet place, I usually decided to stay at home, and surprisingly, the neighbors were keen about my life in America. Having been consistently told that my Chinese was impressive for growing up in the U.S., I talked to the adults fluently without any major lapse, albeit some local slang perhaps.

            Gradually, I felt the “aura” of Shanghai dawning on me each day. With the sounds of the locals conversing, the vibrant sights of the Shanghai horizon, and the smells of the local cuisine wafting in the air, I felt “difficult” not to call it a home, whether for me, my family or my memories. We had toured and shopped one of Shanghai’s most noticeable landmark: the Oriental Pearl Tower, walked the streets of Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s premier shopping district, and journeyed to some of its more ancient landmarks.

            Too quickly, the time of parting came, and again, my mom and I found ourselves saying goodbyes to our family. Now accustomed to Shanghai, I found myself again in that same spot of leaving someplace which I had grown attached to, and as we were scanned at customs, my mind examined my identity in search of its new addition. Now, combined by the customs, languages, and cultures of East and West, I headed towards the plane to go home. But this time, I wasn’t leaving home.


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