It is not the veryday thing to get a chance to visit a Chinese home invited by your Chinese firend so every opportunity that comes my way I value it completely. I have visited 3 Chinese homes so far and I have come to admire and appreciate the Chinese culture. Their way of life and aspirations for the future can be only understood right from their homes and books can only tell us so much.
So this time I got a chance to visit Wuxi city, a smaller town called Hui Shan. Wuxi lies about an hour’s train ride from my home city Nanjing and an hour on China’s bullet train would be nothing to complain about. My Chinese friend is called Zhang Qin (张沁)。Their family has 3 members so being the only child, alot of love and attention constantly flows her way. They all care and love her. I must add she is very cute and friendly. My stay in Hui Shan would span 3 days as I had thought but I left 4 days later.
The journey from Nanjing really started off on the wrong foot. I mistakenly went to Nanjing South Railway Station in stead of the northern one, Nanjing Railway Station. Luckily I changed went to the correct train station changed my ticket and was on the next available train. So we didnt got together with Zhang Qin to Hui Shan(惠山). Arriving 2 hours later her family was there at the station to welcome me.
From the lovely reception at the station we went to see her ageing Grandfather who is suffering from a stroke that has forced him to be bed ridden. He looked strong though frail in moving limbs as they gave him some shoulder massage. The nurses at the hospital together with the family gave who me some food, he could not utter a word.
We ate dinner at a local restaurant the Chinese way. One large table wit rotating dishes one after the other. Since I was the guest, they kept asking me to try every dish and then followed the resounding question? 好吃吗？ Do you like it? At this venue I got to meet the entire extended family and friends of Zhang Qin. All wanted to come and see the foreigner who studies with 小沁 （Zhang Qin）Being an African seems to have doubled their excitement. Zhang Qin was always around to offer some introduction. The family was very nice. At that evening I ate, and ate and ate. We left and proceeded to her home to have a rest….as I thought.
Zhang Qin’s mum made sure that every time I was eating and full. After the large dinner we went to have a wlak around the town ate some small snacks before heading back home. HuiShan people like to converge at the public square and chat while having the normal Chinese public dance routines in masses, spectacular sight.
Taihu Lake – 太湖
Despite the persistent showers in the morning we visited the large Taihu Lake. It is a 30mins drive from Hui Shan. Lake Tai or Lake Taihu is a large freshwater lake in the Yangtze Delta plain. With an area of 2,250 square kilometers (869 sq mi) and an average depth of 2 meters (6.6 ft),it is the third-largest freshwater lake in China, the lake houses about 90 islands, ranging in size from a few square meters to several square kilometers. Yuantouzhu, or “Turtle Head Isle” in English (so called because its shape resembles a turtle’s head), is a popular scenic tourist region. The Yuantouzhu has a spectacular view of the lake and also there is a ferry that cuts accros the lake to the island.
JiangNan University – 江南大学
Jiangnan University is the only such in WuXi city. This large education complex is one to marvel at. From the blossoming flowers at the large main entrance all the way to the water-side, the university is really beautiful. Linked by the new Wuxi Metro, it admits thousands of students from around China. The atmosphere inside the university seems like it is not in China. Its very cool and clean air captures the noses trills. Jiangnan University is a must visit spot when coming down to Wuxi city.
HuiShan has alot of hidden secrets and some are well stored inside the rich flavours of the local food. Like an ancient secret that is passed down from generations to the next, the local food lightens you up as you eat it. Zhang Qin’s mum gave me detailed explanations as we indulged into every dish. In the mornings we had the local dish called XiaoLong Bao while for lunch and dinner was mainly a mixture of various dishes across China. The mixture of flavours and culture in a family setting made the visit even better.
I hope Zhang Qin will get to read this article one day. The family is very much full of love and their home is very welcoming. The family bond is very tight and every where we went accross the town, they seem to be known we would exchange greetings as we walked from shop by shop at night strolls. The Chinese really value visitors and my experience there was fantastic.
During meal times I noticed that they would insist that my plate is always full. All the time one person across the room would rise and propose a toast to the new visitor and place food on my plate suggesting that I humbly eat it. I would also like to thank Qin’s Father, 张先生 who allowed me to stay in his house and provided me with all I needed. Once in a while we would steal some minutes and have a chat as he wanted to know me better. He is a very busy and hardworking man. 他辛苦了！
Am also very thankful for the nice t-shirt that Qin’s mum insisted to buy for me. Also Qin gave me a nice cute pillow which folded out to become a blanket….awesome. She also paid for my return ticket back to Nanjing on the bullet train which I was really thankful. The wonderful time we spent going through the family photographs was great as I learned about the family’s history. All the instruments you can think of, Zhang Qin has a history playing them and I urged her to continue playing her violin as it was a great instrument. I also came to understand that Zhang Qin is a very bright girl who scored among top best in Wuxi and the high school exams.
Alot can be said about this family but am afraid words alone cannot be enough. The 4 days I spent there were really amazing. In Kenya when the opportunity comes I will invite them to my home and return this wonderful favour.
With only a few days left in Nanjing before heading back to Kenya, am yet to pack and clear my items from the reception while still get enough time to make some posts on the blog. I will be taking a 23hr slow train to Guangzhou where my flight is waiting for me. This 23hrs will be another dose of speaking Chinese that am ready for.
For any questions about WuXi or studying in China generally you can place it in the comments section below, and I will reply, thanks.