Hangzhou was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the pleasure of traveling to and probably my favorite place I have been to in China. Granted, I have only been to four cities, I don’t have much firsthand experience of other cities in China, but Hangzhou had everything that you would want in a city. Compared to Beijing, there was less people, the subway was not crowded, and the food as always was delicious.
One thing that made my trip to Hangzhou so special was that I had a chance to stay with a Chinese family while I was there. Chinese people really care about being hospitable, and this family was no exception. They were the friends of my travel partner’s father, back from when her father went to high school in Fujian. They had not seen each other in more than 20 years so it was amazing to me that they were willing to take in my friend and me for a few days.
It also seemed like their hospitality towards us was a way to remind them of their daughter. She had left China when she was in middle school to go study in the US and had completed her high school and college education there. She now lives in Seattle and works for Amazon. They knew that when their daughter was in high school, it was only through the hospitality of the Americans she stayed with that she was able to enjoy her time in the US. Whenever they get the chance to return the favor the take it. And I was very grateful to have them. They took us around Hangzhou and we met some of their family and ate a lot of great food. They treated us like their surrogate daughter, which made it a truly special experience.
Returning to Beijing was hard considering that it is the last great stretch before final and I get to go home and see my family. It’s not that I hate Beijing, but I am beginning to associate it with stress and study. Also winter has come in full force and I just can’t deal with it. Being from Minnesota, you would think that I would be okay with winter but winter is probably my least favorite season. My skin is so dry it’s peeling, and I’m just cold all the time now. I am also a really big fan of the Christmas season, and China has very little of the decorations or music that you would expect to see or hear during this time.
As my time in China comes to an end, I am thinking a lot about all of the special things that I have experienced here. There were definitely a lot of challenges mainly stemming from studying and being in a strange land but it were also a lot of fun things that I could not have experienced anywhere else. I hope that my last few days in China are filled with food and fun.