New country and new travel partners. This time, Andres’ parents Tania and Daniel joined us for a couple weeks to explore China! Together we visited Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Huangshan, Yangshuo, Guilin, and Hong Kong.
Great Wall of China
Polluted skies make for perfect sunsets in Shanghai
Chinese cooking class!
Stunning Longji Rice Terraces
Expert tandem riders in Xi’an – Proof of 39 years of a successful marriage
Beautiful town of Yangshuo
Matching the weather in Beijing
Imagine using Tinder to find your next date but instead of being in control your mom is holding the phone and swiping right for you. That is the marriage market in Shanghai.
It’s a sunny Saturday morning and the park is packed with people standing around, umbrellas laid out by their feet. When you take a closer look, each one of the umbrellas is balancing a white sheet of paper with Chinese characters written on it.
These simple 8×11 papers on top of the umbrellas are resumes…but not career resumes…they are “dating” resumes.
Most of them say something like this:
Male. 27. Salary: Banker. Salary: ¥500,000 Owns Apartment. Speaks English. Height 1.75
Female. 32. PHD. Salary:¥600,000 Looking for chef, accountant, or professional bowler. Height 1.52
The most important content you’ll find is how much money the person makes, if they own a house, their education and salary, and of course how tall they are.
The people standing behind the umbrellas are parents trying to find the perfect partner *on paper* for their children. You could spend hours roaming through the park with a guide translating each quirky “resume”.
And if you’re lucky like we were, you might get to see a mom that likes a resume enough to call her daughter and attempt to make the match. By far the bravest person at the marriage market was a young man holding up his own resume!
Hoping to find love at the market
Hong Kong boat ride
One morning Andres, Tania, and I went for a walk in Hong Kong when we noticed a large group of people fake laughing in the distance. As we got closer to investigate, we saw a teacher directing movements to follow and noises to make that were really strange but also made you smile.
We joined the laughing yoga class for a while and left feeling on a high from all the smiling and laughter! The amazing thing about forcing yourself to smile and laugh is that it actually results in you feeling happier. Visiting parks early in the morning to see people do their exercises all over China was my favorite thing about the country.
We spent a couple days walking through the beautiful Yellow Mountains. On our way down, we shared a cable car with a Chinese family including the grandma, daughter with husband, and granddaughter.
The grandma is staring at me and Andres with a big smile on her face. Suddenly she starts speaking to us at an accelerated pace in Mandarin.
Yellow Mountains in Huangshan
Grandma: “对美丽的夫妇. 这是我的孙女，但不幸的是她不漂亮.”
Tania, Andres, Suz: ???
Guide translating for us: “What a beautiful couple. This is my granddaughter but unfortunately she is not beautiful.”
Tania: “No, no, no, I think your granddaughter is beautiful!”
Grandma: “没关系，她很丑.我知道她很难找到男朋友，因为她也胖. 希望有一天的变化”
Guide: “It’s ok, she is ugly. I know she have trouble finding boyfriend since she also fat. Hopefully one day this change.”
Tania: “Please tell the granddaughter, we all think she is beautiful and to be confident!”
Guide: “Grandma does not agree with you.”
*Awkward silence as the cable car ride finishes and we all take a selfie together*
For our last 2 weeks in China, we planned to volunteer on a farm near the southern city of Guangzhou. Clean air, blue skies, and far from city life this farm that usually hosts artistic retreats seemed like it would be a good fit for us…until we realized that none of the other volunteers spoke English!
El Patron de China
Our boss, who Andres liked to call “El Patron,” only knew how to communicate with us in one way, constantly yelling at us in Mandarin until we somehow figured out what he wanted us to do.
“Shua Shua Shua!” he would yell while Andres and I looked at each other with blank stares. Thats how we learnt the word “Paint” in Mandarin.
Shuay-Ar was the only person who spoke some English and translated for us 🙂
Sun-drying peanuts straight from ground
The other volunteers made a big effort to help with the language barrier, we were laughing all day trying to communicate with charades, but in the end it was hard to really connect so we left a week earlier than planned.
Early morning hike with other volunteers before work
So what did we do with that extra time? We went hiking in Hong Kong!
Hong Kong is surrounded by amazing mountains and one of the best ways to experience them is by hiking on the MacLehose trail. We were able to hike and camp a main portion of the trail for 4 days, finishing up our time in this massive country at the perfect beach camping spot!