Monday, February 3, 2014

Chinese New Year

So I am back, but I don't think I have the ability to put into words what I experienced in these past couple days.
I think what overwhelmed me the most is the fact that I felt so incredibly welcomed by both of my host parents' families.
My host mother and father met in high school and have been together ever since. They are both from the same county and the two family houses are just 15min apart. The dad comes from a larger city in Luxi (I forgot the name, but it has around 600'000 people... really an insignificant city). The city itself was everything that was so incredibly typical about isolated places. I was the only foreigner around and the amount of development was insane. I am sure they were building over 50 different housing communities and I could not figure out who was supposed to live in them...
My stroll around the city with my two cousins was great never the less, because cities like this one really are the epitome of what China is trying so desperately to achieve. The rapid push for urbanization really does not make a lot of sense in my mind (Except that its the easiest way to increase the GDP).
I am so glad that I walked around the city, because it helped me so much to understand what is going on in this very complex system.
Besides that I spend the actual eve of spring festival eating A LOT of food, drinking some sweet, home brewed red wine, trying to figure out the local dialect, and watching CCTVs infamous spring festival show. (You can see pictures of all this below) The Show itself had the occasional propaganda piece on the benefits of the cultural revolution, or impressive military choirs singing together with (probably han chinese) women in minority costumes. Overall very impress, because the show carried on for 5 hours without a commercial break. Impressive!

Two nights later we went to my host mom's parents that still own and operate a farm in the country side. My host uncle prepared all the dishes in one wok over a steel bucket with coals in it. I have never eaten such amazing food before. The vegetables were freshly picked from the farm and when I asked about chemical fertilizer my host grandpa replied that he never used them on his soil  and never will. Surely enough the veggies were incredible. Both grandparents are over 75 and still do most of the work by themselves. They cure their own meat, make Surou (cured meat dipped in eggs and flower and then fried... amaaaazing), make their own sausages, pickle their own vegetables and are just overall awesome. That evening I sat on a tiny bench with my rice bowl in my hand and ate like I have never eaten before. I was not thinking about anything else besides about how unbelievably thankful and happy I am to be able to experience everything I am experiencing here.

Okay I do not want to bore you any longer. I really can't put into words the amount of great things I have learned about China these past few days. This is also mainly because I barely spoke any English. Here are some pictures:

Chickens are being distributed to his children by my host grandpa for the big dinner:

Everything was red on the day of Chunjie. My family gifted me three Hongbao (Red Envelopes), which made me so happy.

The city in Luxi 

The big dinner with my uncles, parents, sister, cousins and grandmother 

The infamous CCTV show. Here a propaganda piece about the cultural revolution... It really shocked me that this was shown. 

There was a French star (no idea who she is, but everyone in China loves her) 

Beijing Opera: Everyones favorite 

The ultimate harmonious ending

My family really wanted to take me to the one really important sight in Luxi: A cave. But there were so many people that we had to turn around. It was incredible how many people went to the cave/park that day...

The next day: Second try with the cave. Outside the exit was this activity square:

My uncle's amazing dinner cooked with the most basic utensils. Unbelievable. 

Here it is:

And here the picture of me and my beloved host family

Tomorrow I am heading to Shaxi, which is one of the oldest and most iconic villages left on the tee road through Yunnan. The journey will take about 10 hours, but I will be staying at an old landlord house with apparently amazing views. Pictures will follow when I am back! All the best from Kunming!

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