I was married in 1984, during our honeymoon in Hong Kong/Macau my wife and I am arranged to travel into China for a day long tour. Crossing the border at Macau, we were met by a bus driver, a tour guide and a government official who noted all of our possessions, watches, cameras etc to ensure we had them at the end of the day. We toured an outdoor wet market,
a kindergarten where the children performed a dance for us and we noticed their day beds had blocks of wood for pillows,
we drove past so many farmers, peasants and as the guide said, workers who were happy to slave away on the road side. Lunch was in a restaurant in the VIP room not mixing with the locals and finally a tour of Sun Yat-sen’s birthplace, the village of Cuiheng, Xiangshan County (now Zhongshan City), Guangdong.
We have a strong memory of the crappy souvenir shop at
Sun Yat-sen’s house, it was very poorly stocked except for two things, we could buy coca cola and beautiful fish paintings by Woo Woon Leung.
We both loved our trip to Hong Kong, Macau and China. We found so much beautiful art, china, furniture, architecture, markets, culture, history, the list went on and on, but we had to wait 25 years to return due to having children, buying a house, life.
On our 25th wedding anniversary, 2009, we retraced our steps but this time it was soooo different. We caught a train from Hong Kong and travelled independently to Guangzhou, we caught taxis, subway trains and stayed at the White Swan hotel on Shamian island, Guangzhou. This trip was dramatically different to 1984, the progress and vibrancy of China was incredible. We had a few language problems but we fell in love with China again.
2009 was a turning point in our life, we moved out of our family home in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, we had a city change, downsized and moved much closer to the city. Our lovely new neighbour owned a Mandarin language school, running classes after work near my work place. It seemed I had an obvious/pre ordained decision to start learning Mandarin and have been learning formally/informally off and on since.