Racing the green light, a massive group of cyclists rode by on a busy China street. I stopped and listened to the people; time became slow as I tried to take a mental picture. Blink. The light turned green as my father, sister, I, and twenty or more people hurried across the street. That is what the trip to China was for me, the amazing food, the beautiful culture, and the colorful people. Then the two weeks seemed to vanish in thin air as we boarded the airplane home.
I am adopted from a Chinese orphanage and in the June of 2010, I learned that my family would be traveling to China for a heritage tour. This huge opportunity would allow me to not only see the world, but to discover what I had missed for 17 years. We toured several fantastic Chinese cities together: Beijing, Guilin, Chongqing, and many others. I was so eager that I was always the first to try new foods, wander off to take a photo, or to get a lesson from women leading a fan dance class in the park.
One of the things that truly defined China was the various types of food. Heaps of dumplings, soups, and noodles made my mouth water as I tried every food they offered. The most memorable food I had was my first meal in Beijing at our hotel; I had a simple noodle soup, and maybe it was the jet lag, but that was most astounding soup I had ever tasted. Everything in the cities was within walking distance, and the sun beat down on us throughout our tour; occasionally the tour guide would stop for all the kids in my heritage group to buy peach ice cream. Each time made me smile as I took a bite knowing that it would be a long time again before I would eat traditional Chinese food again.
Vendors, travelers, tour guides, and the general population brought a personality to China as a whole. The people we met in restaurants or in the towns were always polite and inviting. We had several tour guides but our favorite was Xi Xi; she was funny, informative, and knew the best restaurants everywhere we went. The vendors were the most amusing people to talk to and one of the highlights of my trip was watching my determined little sister, Isabelle, bargain with the vendors on the price of a purse. Other people within our heritage group also had stories to tell of their choices of adoption; it was heartwarming to hear someone else’s discovery that adopting a child was one of the greatest decisions ever made.
Everyone wants to see the Great Wall of China as one of their activities, but I think the Temple of Heaven in Beijing had so much more to offer. While the view from the top is gorgeous and the history is intriguing, I found less appeal when we walked on it. In the Temple of Heaven there was a large group of people doing Tai Chi, there was a man on the sidewalk practicing his calligraphy, and so many other people interacting that it would have been a wonderful place to relax and watch the world go by. Other activities included on the trip were holding an adorable baby panda, playing hacky-sack in Tiananmen Square, shopping in the Pearl market, but I think the Temple of Heaven showed the personal side of China.
I stood looking over the Li River as the mountains of Guilin passed by in fog, and I came to the realization that I would never be tired of exploring my home country. I will always be searching and trying to immerse myself in the culture that seems foreign to me now. I would try to reconnect myself with the world I left behind as a baby with the hope that maybe one day I could return once again.
About the Author: I am currently a high school senior and anticipate to major in International Studies. I love reading and learning about other cultures. This summer I am planning to travel to France and Spain with my school.
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