Culture Shock / 文化冲击

Just one more post to wind up this long story. I’ve been back in Canada
for six weeks now. I’ve been pretty busy, travelling to central Canada
to find a job, and now I’ve settled on going back to school to study law
in the fall.


Before I left China I knew I’d encounter some reverse-culture shock upon
returning to Canada. China is such a different place, I really changed
some of my habits in order to live there, and I knew after they became
habits, I’d have to change them back. For example, pushing my way onto
buses and elevators is neither necessary, nor acceptable in Canada.


Adjusting my habits hasn’t been the biggest challenge. There are times
when I think some things in everyday life would be easier if we could do
it the Chinese way. Of course, every system of doing things has it’s
advantages and disadvantages, so I won’t be choosy.


The thing that has really surprised me is how much China has influenced
the way I think. Some Chinese thinking about their ancestors and their
responsibilities to the previous and next generation have seeped into my
own thinking. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise. I went to China to
integrate myself into the culture and learn as much of the language as I
could. It turns out I succeeded.


None of the reverse culture shock I’m experiencing is very serious, it’s
all fairly easy to handle. But when it comes to a change in thinking,
it’s going to be a challenge to integrate some of these new ideas, as I
move on to the next step in my life.



Sunset for this Chapter


In a few hours I will board a plane headed for home. What was intended to be a seven-month trip turned into a ten-month trip. I left home last August and travelled two thirds of the way around the world in one month. Then I stayed put (mostly) for several months. I’ve shifted here and there according to the requirements of my visa, as well as for a friend’s wedding in India, but haven’t moved further in my circumnavigation. That didn’t mean I didn’t move ahead. I’ve learned a lot of Mandarin in this time, and a whole lot more about China, its people, and its culture.

One month for two thirds of the distance, six months working on my primary mission (to learn Mandarin) a few more months of travel, and now 13 hours in the air to complete the last third of the globe. I find it interesting to compare how the time and distance don’t move at the same speed, but I can’t say much more about it than that.

I said to my friend Daisy last night that in the west China and Asia are the things of legend. Marco Polo, the Silk Road, the Korean DMZ, the Great Wall, the Cultural Revolution, Buddhist temples, the Hong Kong skyline and the Pandas. For the past few months these things haven’t been legends for me, because I lived, worked (and got frustrated with work) and I studied here. I haven’t left yet, but I think my mind is already home. I’m sitting in a Starbucks on Hong Kong Island, but what was part of my life for several months already seems exotic and remote.

This will be the end for this blog as it’s the end for my trip. Next I’ll go back to work, like I used to do and as everyone must do in life. So far nobody has found me my dream job. Don’t forget to pass on my resume to someone you know who’s looking to hire an enthusiastic, tri-lingual, well-travelled, experienced software developer. You’ll be doing me and someone else a favour.

Hong Kong Weekend / 在香港过周末

I just spent the last four days hanging out with friends in Hong Kong. The travel pressure is off here because I’ve been here before and my chief reason for coming here was to meet up with friends. Also, I fly home from Hong Kong later today. I suppose coming to catch a plane is a good reason to come here too.

I did some things I’d already done, including visiting Victoria Mountain, and riding the streetcars on Hong Kong Island. And I did some new things too, like visiting Lamma Island (southwest of HK Island) and going to the horse races on Sunday. It’s always better to travel with a friend.


广州 / Canton

I’m going to blast through the past week and give you the quick summary of what I’ve been up to. The daily posts I did while in Hong Kong and Seoul last year took a lot of work, and it isn’t something I could maintain for three weeks on the road. However, these brief comments don’t mean the places I’ve been recently weren’t interesting. Quite the contrary.

I spent five days last week visiting friends and the sights of Guangzhou. I already told you about visiting to see the Diaolou in the nearby city of Kaiping. Now for the quick rundown on Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) itself.

It turns out I have a lot of friends in Guangzhou, despite the fact that I’ve never been there before. Some are friends of friends, a friend I’ve known for a few years who recently moved home to Guangzhou, and then some university students I met a few weeks ago while travelling in Guilin. As a result, I was accompanied by friends everywhere I went in Guangzhou.

I visited the old European concessions on Shamian Island, two obligatory visits to local temples, the Guangdong Provincial Museum, the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, the Whampoa Military Academy (jointly established by the KMT and the Communist Party to train officers to fight the Japanese in WWII) and the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial hall. I had no idea that so many important figures in Chinese history call Guangdong home, and that so many important historical events and movements started there as well.

I went south in China this time because I wanted to understand more about a part of China that is quite different from where I’ve spent the last six months. It has its own history of kingdoms, its own language and very unique cuisine. I really only got a taste, so I’ll have to go back some time to learn more.