Last summer, my mother, sister and I took a 14 hour long flight back to our roots in Guangzhou, China. The last time I visited China was three years ago and the wait was long overdue. I mostly travel to China to visit my family, but all of my relatives have immigrated to the United States leaving my widowed grandmother living alone. I love my grandmother more than anyone else; she is the biggest reason I visit China.
Guangzhou, China is located in the Canton province. It’s an industrious city filled with private-owned shops, restaurants, outdoor cafes, and luscious parks. My visit in China was only a short 3 weeks, but within those three weeks I experienced all different aspects of Guangzhou.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Guangzhou, to be honest, is not the best Chinese city—the air’s stuffy, filled with cigarette smoke, the ground is dirtied with spit, and the service workers are not the friendliest people to question. But one thing I enjoy about Guangzhou is the authentic, fresh Chinese food. Every restaurant has a different taste and its own set of specialties. From dim sum to exotic rare food, Guangzhou never fails to capture the true taste of China. One of the things I love most about my grandmother is her cooking. Every morning, she would walk down to the farmer’s market to pick put fresh groceries for our meals. It doesn’t matter what she buys, she can make the best Chinese food out of it. Whether it’s traditional Chinese food or a custom recipe, you name it and she’ll be able to make it.
I really love the shopping in Guangzhou. China is well-known for its cheap merchandise. My mom, sister, and I went out to what seemed like a shopping spree every day. From simple souvenirs to, not one item was priced higher than 15 USD. Our closets exploded with new fashion and our friends were bombarded with cheap, tiny souvenirs. We ended up buying so much merchandise that we overstuffed our luggage!
Aside from living in the industrial part of Guangzhou, I like to spend my time at peaceful, nature-filled parks. Just by taking a few stops on the local buses can transport you from the city to a calming realm of trees and vegetation. These parks bring community together—women come together to learn a routine of fan dancing, men meet with friends for a game of chess or sports, the elderly take walks and exercise Taichi, the young children chase each other around on the playgrounds. The parks are a place of recreation, social gatherings, or just simply to relax.
The best part of the trip for me was being able to reconnect with my grandmother. She has heart disease and knee problems so she cannot leave her apartment much. But still, we have fun watching comedies and drama on TV. Every night she would tell her a bit about her past—how she started school late but still earned a high school education, how she bravely moved to Guangzhou by herself to start a job at the paper mill, how she fell in love with my grandfather because of his good looks, and how she raised my mother and her brothers to become fine children. Her heartwarming stories allow me to fall asleep peacefully knowing that my grandmother shares her past because of the love she has for me.
Guangzhou, China has always been my roots. I have enjoyed my days in China especially being able to see the one I love. The experience always leaves me with fresh memories that leave me wanting more.
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