Hi! Or perhaps I should say nǐ hǎo.
I’ve been MIA here for a while for various reasons, but the latest reason is that we were on a trip to China.
Larry’s niece is living there for two or three years for her husband’s work, so we ended up going on a family visit with Larry’s brother and sister-in-law, and his nephew. The five of us flew to China and visited with the niece and her family for a few days, then went off on a tour for a week, before returning to Shanghai for a few days before coming home.
It was a long trip, and one we were definitely a bit nervous about (especially the food issues with Larry being a pesco-vegetarian), but it all worked out well.
The Chinese people were VERY friendly, and seemed excited to see foreigners, especially Caucasians. (Many of the tourists are Indian, and there is apparently a good-sized population of African immigrants living in China.) Larry’s niece said that in her city with a population of about 5 million, she only knows of about a dozen Caucasians – and only 5 of them are Americans. We spent several days in her city and in tourist spots not normally visited by foreigners, so I wonder if a lot of the people had never seen white people in person before. Certainly if they have, it’s very rare. I noticed a few people taking selfies with us in the background. I’m sure we’re in a lot of photos! Larry’s niece has two children – a toddler and a baby, and they were constantly being fawned over.
At the more popular tourist sites, such as in Beijing, we did see other foreign tourists – though mostly Indian/European/Australian – we only noticed a handful of Americans. Even in Shanghai, Caucasians were more of a rarity than I expected for such a popular destination.
Young children would giggle and say “Hello” or “Hi” and wave – and then were tickled pink when we said hello and waved back. A few people even wanted to have their picture taken with us. I wonder what they were going to tell their friends and family about us! I think Larry was particularly interesting to them because of his ponytail and beard. Two of our guides mentioned that the only people with hair like that are either artists or musicians.
Besides being friendly, they were also very helpful. When we were trying to get from the Shanghai airport to our hotel on our own – we ended up taking the Maglev, the Metro (subway), and then walking a few blocks – several people volunteered to help us along the way when they could see we needed some guidance. It’s a good thing, or we might still be at the train station.
I’m planning to share some of my experiences and observations in future post(s), but for now I’ll just leave you with a couple of fierce terracotta warriors.