Meeting Anne's relatives....
Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
35Trip End Mar 01, 2011
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China seems very new and exotic with such different cultures and language, the pace of change is very apparent and sweeping across the country.
Meeting Anne’s distant Chinese relatives was excellent, really good - another highlight of the trip, if a little surreal and strange. We spoke no Cantonese, them very little English and we have no phrase book - between Cantonese & Mandarin there are hundreds if not thousands of characters (Wikipedia states 47,035) and direct translation is at best difficult, then without us even knowing how to pronounce the words anyway
Please see example below; and don’t forget to read it from right to left?
Anne did try and write down the family names and some ages and we took photos and video (a few attached), but the memory is already starting to become a bit of a blur. We spent a full day visiting, travelling with Hong and Oi from Macau, and then meeting up with the rest of the family in the afternoon. We were collected by the youngest son and Anne’s second cousin Wo, who had a very nice new black Chevrolet saloon (bit like a VW Passat) Wo now lives in family home being the only son with four sisters. They had stocked up on Coke, especially for me, and ice creams for our visit.
Anne and I had offered to take "the family" for a meal as is the tradition when visiting. On the walk through the village to the restaurant relatives appeared from all over, many cousins with children and aunts and uncles we ended up with well over thirty people
The menu consisted of; peanuts and pickled ginger, chickens feet and cow’s intestines soup (it was actually very good and we were served, very thoughtfully, just the soup without bits!) followed by crispy pork skin with sweet chili sauce (like hot pork crackling - lovely) tripe and ginger (not great for me, more a texture thing than the taste) boiled fresh water crayfish/prawns (again lovely if a little fiddly for not much reward) then some seafood or water snails like whelks (much laughter and teasing because Anne and me could not suck or slurp hard enough to remove them from their shells, I gave up after about my eight try – perhaps not a bad thing!), steamed chicken, a whole fish, and some great pork ribs with ginger sauce. We drank a sweet fermented vinegar drink (strange again, but better than its sound, a bit like ginger beer), much china tea, beer and Chinese whiskey flowed (with many repeated toasts). The same menu was brought to all four tables, with coke for the kids? Followed by fresh watermelon slices, and the bill for us
Anne’s cousins all called her Aunty. Hong (40yrs) spoke much more English than she had in Macau and Wo (30yrs) her younger brother was very kind and caring – translating sentences on his apple i-phone. It was a long, busy and emotional day, more for Anne than me, many reminders, photos and discussion regarding her Mum and family. They even had wedding photos of me and Anne! The family were very tactile and caring with Anne, much hand holding, walking arm in arm and arm rubbing, plus caring glances and smiles over dinner – again just like her Mum. They were also very respectful to Anne, her being older and having travelled so far, it was a really beautiful experience and a real lesson in the meaning of “family”, we were never left alone or made to feel outsiders.
We were due to go deeper into China on up to Guilin, but flights are very expensive and travel very difficult - for what would have been only a two or three day visit, so we have decided to cancel the booked hotel and have more time & rest back in Hong Kong, before we fly to Chengdu (and hopefully them panda’s).