There’s an old Chinese idiom that goes “Time flies like an arrow” (光阴似箭 guāngyīnsìjiàn). I can totally relate to that one at the moment. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I moved to Beijing the day before the start of the 2008 Summer Olympics (夏季奥运会 xiàjì àoyùnhuì). Not too long after that, I started contributing here on the blog. Well, here we are in 2022 – the year that Beijing became the first city to host both the summer and winter games – with my final post. It’s been a great ride, and I’m excited to cap things off with the Chinese Blog Greatest Hits: Volume 2.
Speaking of Chinese idioms (成语 chéngyǔ), I always enjoyed learning them. While they’re not always that easy to incorporate into your everyday life, Chinese idioms provide great historical and cultural insight. I’ve shared a lot about them over the years on the blog, including “5 Awesome Chinese Idioms” where you can learn about the common “people mountain, people sea” (人山人海 rénshānrénhǎi) idiom and more.
One thing I always tell people about my many years living in China is that it was a bit of a love-hate relationship (爱恨关系 Ài hèn guānxì). I brought this topic to the blog, and my dueling posts “10 Things I Hate About China” and “10 Things I Love About China” remain the most commented on many years later. To be clear, the good far outweighed the bad. I look back fondly on my years there and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
Take a look at the other posts and videos I contributed over the past decade and you’ll see that I thoroughly enjoyed my time in China. There was that time I wrote a love letter to Chinese dumplings (饺子 jiǎozi), for one. I miss eating dumplings – and all Chinese food, for that matter – every single day.
What I wouldn’t give for a tasty jianbing (煎饼 jiānbing) from a street vendor for breakfast, a piping bowl of la mian (拉面 lāmiàn) for lunch, and a communal hot pot (火锅 huǒguō) with friends for dinner.
I had so much fun eating my way across China and sharing it with you here and on the YouTube channel. Here’s one of my favorite videos, titled “Scenes From a Chinese Restaurant” where I show you everything from Beijing roast duck (北京烤鸭 běijīng kǎoyā) to street food:
Now that we’re on the topic of Beijing, I spent a solid five years of my life in the smoggy Chinese capital. It’s a chaotic place to live, that’s for sure, but I loved it. With thousands of years of history and some 20 million residents, it really is a fascinating city (城市 chéngshì).
Having explored all corners of Beijing, I fancy myself a pretty decent tour guide (导游 dǎoyóu). That’s why I wrote posts like “A Perfect Day in Beijing” to help you make the most of a short trip there.
I had a great time putting together a “3 Days in Beijing” video series as well, starting with this one that visits the iconic Forbidden City (紫禁城 zǐjìnchéng) and the always fun Hou Hai (后海 hòuhǎi):
While a vast majority of my time in China was spent in Beijing, we also called Kunming (昆明 kūnmíng) home for a year. It’s a small city of 7 million that you’ve probably never heard of…
Known as China’s Spring City (春城 chūnchéng), Kunming is famous for its moderate climate, Over the Bridge rice noodles (过桥米线 guò qiáo mǐxiàn), and ethnic minority (少数民族 shǎoshù mínzú) culture. There are 55 ethnic groups in China other than Han, and 25 of them live in Yunnan province. Each group has its own unique culture, which is most evident through their colorful traditional clothing.
Traveling around the region and experiencing the local culture was a highlight of my time in China. This included the wet and wild Water Splashing Festival (泼水节 pōshuǐ jié) in southern Yunnan.
In addition to the massive water fight, there are also dragon boat races (龙舟比赛 lóngzhōu bǐsài). Check it out in this video I put together to see what this fun traditional festival is all about:
At the end of the day, what I’ll remember most about my time in China is that despite being on the other side of the world in a culture very different from my own, I felt at home. This started during my first Spring Festival (春节 chūnjié) when the staff at our hostel in Nanjing invited us to have dinner with them.
Years later, a friend of a friend invited us to his rural village a few hours outside of Kunming to celebrate the holiday. I’ll never forget our short time in Xiaohe (小河村 xiǎohé cūn), where the locals welcomed a couple of laowai (老外 lǎowài) in with open arms to join the celebration.
I wrote about both experiences in “Spring Festival Flashback,” and I continue to tell those stories to this day. You can see what it was like celebrating the country’s most important holiday in a small village in this video:
I’ve tried to imagine a family in a rural village in the US inviting a couple of random Chinese folks who just got off a Greyhound to stay at their home for a few days over Christmas, and I just can’t. The hospitality shown to us there and in many other instances during our years in China is something I’ll be forever grateful for.
I’d like to once again thank Transparent Language for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences in China here on the blog. It’s been an honor serving as a cultural bridge between east and west for all these years. I’d also like to thank our awesome readers for all of your kind words and support. 非常谢谢你们!
You can still find my musings on travel and many other topics over on my site, Grateful Gypsies.