Our Rickshaw traveller, Kelly visited China this year and fondly remembers her time travelling to each amazing place . But it’s not the destinations alone that have left an imprint on her memory, its the people too. Read about Kelly’s memorable adventure and the people behind each place…
The people of China…
“I was all set to write about the places in China; the bright lights of Shanghai; the wonder and scale of the Summer Palace; the magnitude of the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army and the sanctuary and peace of Ping’Yao. And yet, my strongest memories are of people. People I didn’t take photos of; but who remain with me somehow through the memories they created and the impressions they left. And I believe that all of these interactions came about because I was travelling on my own. I would have had interactions with people in a group or if I travelled with a friend, but somehow in my heart I know that these people approached me because I was on my own. As I was told in the mountains… Chinese people do not travel so much alone! I think the novelty value of a single woman was quite high! So this is dedicated to those interactions that made me smile and I guess really proved to me what travelling is all about.
‘Looking natural’ in Shanghai
In Shanghai, I was directed into poses with my camera whilst standing on the Bund looking at the financial district, by a middle aged woman; who wanted pictures of me ‘looking natural’. What I understood from the directions given to me in a mixture of Mandarin and mime was that these pictures had to look as though she had just taken them of me whilst I had been taking pictures and not noticed her!
Doorbells and new friends in Huangshan
In Huangshan, I experienced the doorbell of my hotel room being rung at 8.30pm. It took at least four attempts to get me to answer my door, as… well, who knew that hotel rooms have doorbells! Something was muttered about needing to check my telephone, as the staff member bustled into my room and then out again almost straight away… but that experience made me laugh to myself for hours; especially as I first thought it was the group having a party in the next room playing a prank! And I still don’t know what was checked!
The day after, a woman sat on the wall next to me as I was writing my postcards and kept shuffling closer, until I looked up and her husband gestured that he wanted to take a picture of the two of us together. By the way… the scenery in the Yellow Mountains is spectacular!
Flowers & dancing in Beijing
In Beijing, after leaving the Forbidden City, I ventured into Jingshan Park where I was met with groups of impromptu choirs, singing rousing renditions of what sounded like workers tunes; highly emotional and heart-warming. Round the corner were mini Peking operas being performed by two people with a microphone; groups of people dancing and ladies dressed up performing plays. Then there were the hundreds of people appreciating the flowers; taking photos at the edge of flower beds; in flower beds and as close to a peony as it is possible to get! The Chinese love their parks, and I loved this place. The spirit and warmth that emanated from Jingshan Park was incredible., and then I got noticed in a crowd and beckoned to join in the ballroom dancers in the middle.. I admit that I backed away quickly at this point.. using my best Mandarin phrase of ‘Bu Shi, Xie, Xie .. bu yao’ No, thanks, I don’t want to! Followed by much giggling to myself as I wandered away from the crowd towards someone belly dancing….
Postcards in Ping’Yao
In Ping’Yao, two lovely girls took my picture in the Temple of Confucius, disappeared after our conversation and then came back 5 minutes later with a postcard for me, on which they had written, ” We wish you a good journey in China”, with their names in Mandarin. Now that made me smile all day!
Remembering China’s people
Therefore, I think of my time in China fondly, as I remember the interactions with the people of China, who all made my trip memorable. To the lady in Gods Own Temple, Shanghai who chatted to me for ages in Mandarin, even though I could understand none of what she was saying to me; to the gentleman who stopped when he saw I was hopelessly lost, and used all the English he knew, whilst I used all the Mandarin I knew, and to all the Chinese tourists in Huangshan who encouraged each other, and myself, to keep climbing the never ending stairs to ‘flying rock’; and to the small group of photographers who gathered at the North East corner of the Forbidden City at sunset; I would like to say thank you for making my trip to China so memorable!”
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