Experiencing China for the first time I have to say that China is amazing. What a culture shock! What a country of extremities. What an amazing experience.
The 2004 China trip is something that every Chinese New Zealander should take part in.At the time we laughed at the term "root seekers" but that is exactly what we came out as. At the end of the trip felt that I finally understood where I came from, discovered my heritage, and was inspired to learn more about China as it rolls into the new millennium.
It is impossible to pinpoint my highlight of the trip. There were just too many new experiences. Visiting my ancestral village was something that was definitely one the most special times for me. It was great to discover a place that is really so distant for me, being second generation New Zealand Chinese, but it also gave me a tangible place to know where I came from. It was no longer "China". I could know picture the house, the street and the market that was open down the road. It was also great to find out that Sabrina's ancestors literally lived one lane over from my ancestors. The term "village cousins" finally made sense.
Spending four days at the Huang Fei Hong Martial Arts Academy was another highlight of the trip. I have to admit at the time I didn't think I was having a great time, but looking back it was definitely a great visit. It was great to learn from Kung Fu masters. We were really learning from the best. It was also a good introduction of China. The Kuag Fu students were the first Chinese we had truly interacted with. I found it interesting that even they had never left China and even spoke English we still could understand each other.
The trip up the country was also great. It was great to leave polluted Guangzhou to arrive in beautiful Hangzhou. Hangzhou really felt like the beautiful untainted China of the past. There was no pollution and just less noise. Moving to Shanghai showed us the glitz of China. Before the trip people had told us that Shanghai was the New York of China and boy were they right. It was amazing to see the effect of the booming economy and the Western world had the city. The overnight train was heaps of fun especially from leaving the glitz of Shanghai and then waking up in what seemed like a fusion of past and present China in Beijing.
The history of Beijing makes you really appreciate and understand why China is like it is. From first visiting the most important area of modem history, Tiananmen Square, and the most significant site of ancient history, The Forbidden City, showed the contrasting dynamics that has led to China in its present day.
But the most immediate reaction I have had from the China trip would be the great people I have met on the trip. They really made my trip a life long memory. It is amazing to think that we had not known each other six weeks earlier and how much of a profound effect that had on my life during the trip and also now after China.
Chinese lessons were the shambles. They weren't really helpful to extending our Chinese and in the end we made do with those around us or by using a calculator!
The time in Hong Kong only amounted to l and 1/2 days. I think that they really didn't give people enough time to do Hong Kong. If this stay was extended to four or five days, it would give enough time for everybody to get a real feel of Hong Kong like we were given in Shanghai and Beijing.