It’s a belated travel diary again!! I’ve started school/work/interning/regular life again but I started going through my photos from China – here’s part one of (I think) eight, recapping my two weeks in China in August. I have such a floaty memory it’s a wonder I remember anything about this time lol. Also, bc I was kinda shitty about photos, these aren’t all from the same day just kind of…mooshed together where I thought it would fit/be convenient/make sense. Just a head’s up that there may be weird time skips 🙂
My flight to Beijing left from SFO, and as I live a few hours away from San Francisco I took a shuttle in and completely conked out during the drive. I have anxiety about basically everything, so that includes travel and means I try to get to the airport with 3 hours to do nothing but wait. I’d much rather be waiting at the gate knowing I’m ready to go as soon as they are than spend a little extra time at home and sweat buckets of anxiety grossness in the security line. (I’ve learned this the hard way; my mom is one of those people who thinks “oh it’s fine, we have time!” and my dad and I are the types where you can never get to the airport early enough. When my mom controls our itinerary I’m just a complete mess and 9 times out of 10 we will miss our flight/train/whatever.)
This painting by my gate is by Juana Alicia and Emmanuel Catarino Montoya – it’s called ‘Santuario/Sancutary’. Airports are kind of stressful and grumpy places, but I’ve always appreciated the sentiment found in them, of coming and going and reunions and new beginnings. Kind of like the opening/closing scenes of Love Actually, lol, where Hugh Grant as PM is like ‘look at all these people loving!’
My flight to Beijing kicked off with a fun security video featuring a chubby baby panda, so right up my alley of interests lol. I read a bit of 1984, watched Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates (which I’d give a 3/10, and that’s really only so high bc I did laugh and I very much enjoyed Kumail Nanjiani and Jeanie/her husband), did a lil cross stitching, and tried to sleep.
The best thing to see upon landing is that wonderful red DELAYED sign !! I think I ended up leaving for Yinchuan at the time I was originally supposed to arrive there, so that was very fun. My family came to pick me up at, like, 1AM and we went to get a quick bite at a late-night dim sum place before heading home.
Jet lag is a thing, so I woke up at 7AM and was ravenous. We were at my grandma’s apartment in Yinchuan, which is the capital city of the Ningxia province. I’ve only really spent time in cities in China, so idk about more rural places… but I can’t say enough good things about going downstairs to a billion different places for cheep wonderful delicious Chinese food!!!
My grandma, parents, brother and I went out for some xiao long bao and I’m drooling right now remembering it. Not a figure of speech/exaggeration, like I can feel my mouth salivating. TMI? Sorry I love food and talking about it
Something Ningxia has, in contrast to other places in China, is a lot of people who are Muslim! I think the Hui people (a distinct ethnic group in China – the dominant majority group are the Han Chinese, but there are 55 other officially recognized ethnic groups too) are Muslim and make up a pretty sizable percentage of that province’s population, and upon consulting the Wikipedia page, I’m right! 34% are Muslim, so there were mosques around and restaurants would have plaques saying all the food was halal. Recently it’s come out that the Chinese government has been detaining Muslims of the Uighur (also spelled Uyghur) ethnic group in western China, so I’m not sure how that’s playing out in Ningxia, which is further to the east and has a smaller proportion of Muslim people. It goes without saying that this shit is an awful and inexcusable crackdown on freedom of expression and belief in the service of elevating extreme loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party, so I’m not really sure what else to say other than I hope international pressure mounts and the Chinese government stops. I’m not sure how realistic that is, since the Chinese government’s pretty fuckin’ scary and absolute, but I guess thought it would be wrong for me to be like “look a cool mosque love that green color!” and not at least mention what’s happening. My cousin, who’s maybe five years older than I am, took my brother to a mosque before I got there and they told me that a lot of the plaques that describe Muslim history or culture were being censored or removed outright because the government is cracking down on beliefs they deem incompatible with their idea of China. OK KINDA HEAVY STUFF but it’s like, I’m lucky enough to be in a country where my freedom of speech is protected by law and I gotta dissent while I can u kno!??
Not sure how to segue out of that talk, but here another meal we had! This is yang za sui (羊杂碎), which is a soup of the innards of sheep. It was fuckin’ delicious, y’all. Highly recommend. I’ve been trying to cut down on my meat intake because ethical/environmental reasons, but it’s hard for a selfish person who likes to eat meat and does shit like dream about eating lamb soup. Chinese people eat everything and I am so glad we do. Love a goooood liver–brain-stomach-kidney-entrail soup.
I always think the most interesting thing while traveling is comparing and contrasting the differences in daily life, rather than the big tourist attractions. It tells you so much about culture and everyday people’s way of living. Like, once I noticed that it was fashionable to have straight eyebrows rather than arched, I saw them everywhere and was like :O why?? so interesting but why??? How did that preference develop?? Or this guy who was getting lunch. Everything from the creaky bike he rode to the lack of helmet to the way he ordered his food and interacted with the restaurant owner says so much. I think it’s just interesting to see how people live their lives lol, maybe that’s just nosiness disguised as cultural curiosity.
Another meal!!! Ningxia is known for good lamb/mutton (I never know what to call that, because in Chinese you don’t use other words when it becomes food you just say ‘sheep’), and I love eating that shit so I had a gr8 time. We had lamb dumplings here. We also had this tea, which has eight different things inside and tastes like juice (but more natural and not as sweet), but I literally only really enjoy drinking water so that’s not as notable.
At night we went out for karaoke with the whole fam. Karaoke is a A Big Deal in China (and, I’m told, in Korea and Japan too), and if you’re ever in China you should definitely hit up a KTV with some pals and eat/drink/sing the night away. Everyone loves karaoke, to the point where the Beijing airport has little solo karaoke booths for you to sing while you wait for your plane. Like, can you imagine that shit ever happening at LAX? This is what I mean when I say culture is such a fascinating thing!! Like, why did the hallways of this karaoke place have a vaguely European town theme? Why was our karaoke room Avatar (the blue people, not the cartoon) themed??? I don’t know but it’s cool!!!!!
OK that’s all for 2day thx 4 tuning in see you next time which will hopefully be sooner rather than later!! I think questions at the end of blog posts (or any kind of post, for that matter) often feel like a disingenuous grab for ‘engagement’, so I try and stay away from it but I hope it’s clear to whoever 3 people are reading this that talking is cool and I love it when we talk and always feel free to chime in if you have a thought. I just think bloggers that close with a “So there’s what I did and wore on this Thursday! Tell me, what do YOU think about white t-shirts?? Have you ever experienced a latte like mine??? I would LOVE TO KNOW!!!!!” always make me roll my eyes and vindictively not comment/like/subscribe/click. I don’t want to help your stats, and you shall not have any engagement numbers from me today, good sir!!
This was a weird ending but, again, thank you for reading if you have made it this far lmao