I am of chinese heritage. My parents were both raised in Hong Kong, but were born in mainland China. I’ve been told many stories by my parents including how my grandfather smuggled my young mother over the Hong Kong border to try and escape the communist party regime during the 1960s, whilst my paternal grandfather joined the Brtish army as a chef – I remember being shocked when he used to cook brilliant roast dinners with all the trimmings, yet he could barely speak a word of the Queen’s.
Both sets of grandparents yearned for a better life and as HK used to be a British colony, they decided to move their families over to the UK and set up home. Both grandparents went into the takeaway business. And I was very spoilt in terms of food growing up as I had a choice of fish and chips/ and great chinese takeaways! In fact, my friends still comment on how much they loved my dad’s chicken chow mein.
I’ve been to Hong Kong several times (my dad also owns a house there) and have always considered it to be a spiritual home, because it’s where I feel closest to my parent’s humble beginnings and closest to my chinese roots. In 2005, however, my parents wanted to take us on a tour of China. Of course, we jumped at the chance. They wanted to share the experience with their children and wanted us to learn more about the country, so rich in history, culture and steeped in tradition – and where we essentially came from.
It was a full-on, organised 21-day trip, spanning thousands of miles. We took in Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin and Shanghai to name but a few and sailed down the Yangtze river. We flew, travelled via train, bus and boat, and moved around a lot. It was stressful and knackering, but insightful and interesting. China is vast and fascinating and I am ever so grateful to my parents for giving me the oppportunity to visit the most populated place on the planet.
There were several highlights during our time in China, and I thought it would be more interesting to share our experiences through a small selection of our photos. They say a picture paints a thousand words…