Now for a little bit of China
I've been in a relative down wrt China, Asia, and the rest of what I usually consumed. Quebec movies, Canadian music, live shows in French, European cuisine? So it's weird that I didn't actually have a tag for China or Asia on this blog, other than for the actual trip there last year.
A strange conjecture tipped the current equilibrium. First, it was astrael's post (and my subsequent comment post), and secondly, it was my grandparents coming back from their annual winter-long trip to HK.
I was even considering skipping family dinner tonight, but watching hockey is a really stupid excuse. And I really enjoy talking with relatives-not-in-household (not that I don't enjoy it with them too - simply that we live so closely to each other than there's not much space to talk about anything non utilitarian - but I venture the guess that when I move out, this will definitely change), especially my grandparents. I am not forced to speak in Cantonese to anyone in Canada unless I speak with them - and when I do, woaw do I feel invincible!
For about four months - since October/Novemberish, both of them went to HK, visited Shanghai, some other deeper places in Guangdong province I've never heard of (where my grandmother claims that there are natural hot springs?), and of course had many many trips across the border to Shenzhen (where she described those 2000-employee spa complexes). My aunt/uncle here are now thinking of bringing my two cousins back with them to HK in July (while my uncle lived in HK for a while, my CBC aunt never did). *Now*, the big news is that my mother also wants to go in July, and wants to take along my little brother, and hopefully my father as well.
Basically, I am not fighting the impossibility and irresponsibility of returning again, but am planning ahead to wildify my usual summer party(ies). :D
No joke though is that after the Habs beat the Bruins, I spent the next hour or two at the dinner table sipping cheap Chinese tea and eating Macanese almond candies with grandparents (especially my grandmother), mother, aunt, chatting away about HK (useless chattering, as I spend half a day just trying to express an idea). My grandmother gets the belief that HKers are a different kind from the ones living overseas. They are quick, and they know how to talk (and to what I've countered for years that anyone would behave that exact same way if living in any big cosmopolitan city). We also agree on how the food is so much better - how my cousins and brother need to see the world of variety in Chinese cuisine (the next person ordering General Tao chicken in front of me will know my impassionate hatred for pseudo-Chineseness). I wanted to get the point across that clothes are so much are easier to fetch, b/c THEY ARE THE RIGHT SIZE! :O (So I laughed in the face of my friend Sean who went to Beijing for a month and thought that everything was so... short)
But going back to the China to make my own life has always seemed like a counter-intuitive thing to do. It's irrational (why go back to a semi-developed country after all these efforts made to emigrate?) - with more than some element of an underlying quest for identity. I'm alright with "Canadian-born Chinese", and it hasn't always been the case, but do I want to move back to China to live, let alone Hong Kong? A year ago, I said, way to go, that is exactly possible, and what I've wanted to do since like I was 19. OTOH, now, I think I could be content with a life in a tranquil town, with little action, and perhaps fork out a few thousand bucks once every few years for a pilgrimage to HK.
As opposed to 2002, this time I had a month stretch where I *only* stayed in HK and South China - basically living the life of a HK tai gong. :D I nonetheless discovered the city for real, deviated from the obvious landmarks (the big Buddha on Lantau, which I still haven't seen - but the new cable car should help), and got to know some of the more remote areas of the SAR, as well as participating in local events / gatherings (although I regret not knowing about the indie scene earlier). This is my idea of a safe way to get a change of scenery.
The next time I go, I wouldn't want to go alone, again. I would, OTOH, want to make my way to Xinjiang and the mountainous southwest (Chongqing), not with a tour, but with my backpack... I looked into the prices for the train trip from HK to Shanghai with the KCR (came to about 100CAD one-way hard-sleeper) but didn't dare booking it and I was also already way over-budget and out of time. That's probably going to go for 2008. The "youth hostels" I looked for in SH are super affordable and well-located, and I hope they stay that way.
One of the most eye-opening portion of the trip was to Dongguan, to my uncles' factories. "If we didn't put capital in it, there wouldn't be a factory at all, and those people wouldn't have work at all", says my aunt. Canadianized thinking asks you to wonder if there is another way than Dickensian economic growth this country is seeing. My belief is that a one-party system is required to sustain the economic growth, and that only through this growth can the country sustain a more transparent government (whether it's one-party or not - as long as there's a forum for real debate - hasn't Japan been governed by the same govt since WWII, except for a short stint of a few months, and how about S'pore?).
I'm worried about the state of world affairs. Ok, Crash is an over-simplified exaggeration... but what is actually brewing in countries envying the prosperity of others? What's going to happen when exploited people really fight back against their oppressor? So far, phew, the Cold War didn't destroy us all - while causing a lot of pain to a lot of people all around the world nonetheless, but I tend to side with Stephen Hawking about the fate of the Earth (search earth/destroy).
It's not exactly where I thought that talking about China led me to. I guess I am more a gloomy person than a jovial one. Other than that, yes, the world is more than Montreal, and yes, I can be more interested in my roots, starting with travelling with the olfactory and the gustatory.
interesting post on your trip.
just wanted to see how you're doing.
keep in touch. ^_^