Ever since I made my first venture outside of my home country, the United States, when I was 11, I have had a passionate desire to travel abroad. After Nicaragua, I was continually awaiting my next opportunity to travel the globe. So, it was obviously a no-brainer when my parents asked me to accompany them on their second trip to China, just shy of my 15th birthday. On my parents’ first trip, they brought home a new little sister for me and my two younger brothers. Now, they were going back to welcome a little boy into our family! Not only was I excited to experience a new culture, but was also anticipating the chance to see my little sister’s birth country. Even though she wasn’t accompanying us on the trip, due to being so young at the time, I could experience the culture, homeland, and heritage that she left behind.
We left for China mid-July of 2016. During our two-and-a-half-week expedition, we went from China’s capital, Beijing, to Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and finally Shanghai. China was absolutely fascinating! I found I had so much interest in learning about the drastic differences between eastern culture and western culture. Our nation’s history and heritage is merely in infancy compared to China’s! While in Beijing, we visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Juyongguan Pass of the Great Wall, a jade factory, and went on a Hutong tour on rickshaws. In Zhengzhou we visited the Zhengzhou People’s Park and went to the Zhengzhou Zoo.
Guangzhou was one of my favorite cities that we stayed in because it was very beautiful and was accompanied by a tropical ambiance. Granted, I’m not one for tourist hot-spots, but Guangzhou is definitely worth visiting! One of the best places for shopping that we encountered was Shamian Island. Not only was it an absolutely picturesque place to sightsee but had a large variety of little shops and boutiques to peruse. One of my favorite shops was one called Jenny’s Place and it was the one-stop-shop for all your Guangzhou souvenirs. Shamian was like a place frozen in time, but not out of reach of the modern world. Walking through, you could see the majestic lure of the decades-old buildings meeting the current appeal of the newer architecture, and, to tie it all together, the luscious vegetation that appeared frozen in time, and yet always in a constant bloom. Between the moss draping from the tall twisted trees and the dozens of statues and displays of art, I could find myself there for hours attempting, in vain, to capture the wonder of this little corner of the world.
Throughout our stay in China, I would pause and ponder the questions surrounding my sister’s first years of her life. I wondered if she called a big city like this one her home, or maybe a rural town in the country. Did she eat noodles like the ones I was unsuccessfully attempting to bring to my mouth via chopsticks? It was such a mind warp being in the country, on the other side of the world, that holds the keys to my little sister’s past yet finding them unobtainable. I was so close to the truth, yet so far. But maybe this is how it’s supposed to be. Years from now, when she starts asking these questions herself, I hope to have the opportunity to return to this mysterious country and make new memories with her. Memories, not to replace lost ones, but to fill in the gaps they left behind.
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