A Different Way of Living - My Family Travels

When someone says “China”, a person would automatically think, Beijing, Shanghai, the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, etc., all of the famous cites that people visit while going on vacation in China. However, during my vacation to China, I saw the exact opposite; the rural life of China.

July 5, 2011, we departed from Des Moines, IA and twenty-four hours later, we landed at the Hong Kong International Airport. We had spent one night in Hong Kong and the next morning we took a charter bus from Shenzhen to Xin Hui, where my relatives came to pick us up. From Xin Hui, my uncle and cousins drove us to my mother’s hometown, Shadui a rural town in the southern province of Guangdong. From Xin Hui to Shadui was traveling from city to rural; you could see the tall skyscraper like building that either acted as apartments or shopping malls and skyscrapers in the making to rice paddies and hutongs (traditional styled houses).


For the next three weeks, I lived with my mother’s family and experienced the life of villager. Many of the villagers are entrepreneurs, some of them sell Chinese pastries, others sell household goods, and some open restaurants. Therefore, many villagers would sleep early to set up shop in the morning in the open market or travel to other markets to sell. Once the markets open, usually around seven in the morning, the villagers would go out to buy all of their ingredients that they needed for the whole day, because after lunch many people in Shadui would either close their shops or move to another market to sell in the afternoon. My aunt and uncle are merchants who would buy goods at large quantities and then sell it back out to villagers. Many people would also go out to eat breakfast, and unlike America where the restaurants have plenty of food, wanton noodle soup, buns, pastries, and other breakfast food would run out very fast.

After the market closes in the morning, everyone heads back home to cook lunch. Because the houses in Shadui are hutongs, the kitchen is a separate room than the living room and many people use their living rooms as the dining room. After lunch, my aunt and uncle would sleep until two, where they would then head off to another town to sell goods.

Because we were visiting in July, the temperatures were around 100 degrees Fahrenheit every single day, so my family and I would usually go out to the markets in the morning and after lunch, we would stay inside. At first, we would watch TV or go browse the internet, but soon afterwards, we had found a different kind of entertainment: mahjong (not the American version, but the Chinese version). At first my parents would not let us learn how to play because there was betting involved, but because my brother was so eager to learn, my parents let him (learn about mahjong, but not about the betting portion). Soon afterwards, everyone in the family learned how to play and often had tournaments the China vs. America, and majority of the time the Americans won.

After living in my mother’s hometown for three weeks, I had gotten used to the life in China, except for crossing the road- cars do not watch out for you, speaking in Cantonese, going out shopping in the morning, etc. People even said that I blended into a villager in Shadui.

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