Just a month ago I eagerly anticipated and counted down the days (and hours) to my “Great Chinese Adventure”. I was full of naive but comforting assumptions about China, mostly limited to that of martial arts movies, Chinese take-away and a perplexing dialectic language.
I carried such child-like Western views through my 13 hour, 3 plane arduous journey to the very gates of my accommodation block. However, despite my presuppositions (which were quickly debunked) I did not feel the massive culture shock that previous exchange students mentioned. Even now, I can’t help but love the clash of culture and Chinese tradition. From urbanised modern skyscraper apartments to rural parts of Ningbo where locals sit by the lush green trees and fish all afternoon. From Western favourites like Starbucks and Burger King and huge shopping complexes (rivalling Westfield London) to local Chinese cuisine (serving dumplings, glutinous rice rolls and fresh sushi). From adopting the West’s love of consumerism and technological gadgets to maintaining the Chinese work ethic and focus on repetitive learning.
My highlights so far involve visiting Ningbo Historic Museum: a must for those keen to learn more about Ningbo’s rich port economy and traditions. The museum (which has English translations) contains authentic wooden carvings often intricately etched into furniture during the Qing Dynasty, portrayals of the commercial streets in Ningbo and a food stall selling local Ningbo delicacies. I recommend the sesame moon cakes!
Visiting Jiufeng Mountain in Beilun District is another great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Just a stone’s throw from Ningbo, Yinzhou District the mountain is surrounded by peaks, beautiful waterfalls and bamboo valleys. I must admit, the stifling humidity and steep incline did make me think about giving up (no less than every 10 steps) but after mustering up the little willpower I had left, I made it to the top.
If you ever need motivation when trekking up a mountain, just think about the potential instagram picture!
Stay tuned for my weekly ‘View from China’ edit!