For anyone reading that doesnt know, I lived in deepest darkest China (Hunan province - surrounded by stereotypically tradtional rice paddy fields, people wearing conical hats and water buffalo) for a couple of years. It was both the best of times: the food, the language, the people, the randomness of everyday life, and worst of times: the food, the language, the people, the randomness of everyday life! However I came away having made friends for life, with a distinct change in food taste (my taste for salty hot food is still firmly there even 10 years later), and with a love of a culture that is unlike any other I've come across so far.
An average street on an average day in Hunan
Having dinner with my adoptive Chinese family, a younger version of me (behind the steam) with the 'handsome dark stranger' that had come to visit me in my town. The visit prompted much excitement for my students and pretty much the entire local area, regardless of whether they knew me or not. Speculation was rife as to whether we would marry... turns out the speculation was right :-)
In celebration of the upcoming Chinese New Year (January 31st) I'm going to do a few posts about China, not for any other reason that it will give me happy feelings and give me an excuse to reminisce. It will mainly be excerpts from my diary and emails that give a flavour of life over there, a few photos (in a time before digital photography mind!). I'm also going to share a handy guide I wrote for a friend visiting Beijing.
In the mean time "Xīn Nián Kuài Lè" - "Happy New Year" in Mandarin. May the Year of the Horse bring you much wealth, health and happiness!