Introduction and Project China
Project China is a personal project that aims to inspire readers to travel to China and presents the multifaceted nature of Chinese culture: food, arts, language, literature, religion, and ethnic cultures via words and imagery.
How did it all begin? Let me tell you a story.
As a Canadian-born Chinese, traveling to China was one of my life-changing experiences. This was my first contact with my culture aside from the exported Chinese culture found in the Chinatowns in my mother country, Canada, and my father and mother’s lessons. In 1998, I visited Beijing and the Great Wall of China on a private tour; and Hong Kong with my paternal grandfather, who wanted to visit China one more time before he passed away. I also had the luck of visiting my grandfather’s village. Seeing the mud-colored stone homes, wells, and dirt roads made me realized that China was, at that time, a poor country. The people worked hard to make ends meet and often sent their sons to learn lucrative trades or go overseas, as opposed to the cultured elite of the Chinese court that we see depicted in literature and art. Everything was not ideal like the Chinese life portrayed in Walt Disney’s Mulan (1998), which had been one of my first cultural influences as a child.
My second visit to China in the summer of 2010 had a different purpose: to understand and correlate what I learned from Western-taught Chinese history to the actual places we visited. My family and I had the luck of being on a private tour organized by Dragon Delight Tours, so we were able to spend our time more leisurely at historical sites, leave whenever we wished, and had the convenience of being driven and picked up by our tour van. Our destinations were Shanghai, Huangshan, Hangzhou, Xi’an, and Guilin– all are known for its significance in history and culture. Our visits to Suzhou and Hong Kong were self-directed and explored with our relatives whom we spent time with. These travel logs and photos are all memories and thoughts of the experiences we had with the ever-changing modern China and are meant to be contrasted with the experiences of 1998.
A third journey was made in August 2012 to explore the western provinces: Yuunan and Sichuan, and the unique local people’s cultures. Undoubtedly, this was an exciting venture on the historical Southern Silk Road (Tea and Horse Road).
In September/October 2018, we visited Shandong and Henan provinces, Nanjing, and Beijing. Regarded as the cradle of Chinese civilization, Shandong province ideally should be one of the first provinces an individual should visit to get a better understanding of Chinese history: the beginning of Chinese civilization on the Yangtze River and the hometown of Confucius, whose philosophy would shape Chinese culture. Also, a lot of Chinese literature was written in this region, including The Outlaws of the Marsh (also known as Water Margin). In Henan province, there is the story of Bao Zheng and how his righteousness helped the people; and the Shaolin Temple, home of the Shaolin martial art. For more modern history, Nanjing has a memorial dedicated to the Nanjing Massacre and how the world should learn from this holocaust that involved the deaths of innocent elderly, women, and children.
These journeys barely skim the surface of China’s rich cultural history. To fully understand would take a lifetime of cultural immersion and possibly living in the country for a number of years.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy! — circa August 8, 2010 (updated March 13, 2019)
August 25, 2012– Looking back, my experiences in China have been enjoyable thus far as my family had made it a point to schedule a private tour with exclusive focus on history and local cuisine tasting (as opposed to tasteless buffets as most tours are geared toward scheduling for their convenience). However, it is still bothersome to me not to have a grasp of Mandarin Chinese speaking and writing wise as well as the more intimate parts of history and culture. I can speak some Cantonese– the local dialect of Guandong province and Hong Kong– but not fluently. It is my wish to learn the language and more about the history and culture before returning to China in the future.
September 2015 – At the time of my visit to Taipei in Taiwan, Taiwan is its own country. Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions of People’s Republic of China.
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