Royal Grammar School

Newcastle

My visit to China - Isha Yadav

My visit to China - Isha Yadav

I step down onto the stone pavement, it is dappled as the sunlight radiates through the maze of golden yellow foliage, belonging to the native gingko tree. Mountains rise in the distance, only the peaks visible, for they are shrouded in soft, drifting cloud. Flurries of people pass around me and words of mandarin float through the air like incense. It is the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Red flags hang from every lamppost I pass by and large red coloured monuments stand in the squares. A statue of a panda family sits to one side of me, each one with the flag on its cheek. I walk on and see vendors siting on the floor with woven wicker baskets, calling for the small populations of people to purchase something from their array of exotic, ripe and juicy pomelos, figs, pomegranates or dragon fruits. Some meander through the streets, selling strings of handmade pale yellow flowers, while others rest under the weeping willow tree, its gracefully hanging verdure providing a shady sanctuary. 
 
Soon, I have reached the heart of a market. Walking past the stalls, the air is seasoned by the merging sharp, piquant, and unconventional scents of China’s notorious street food. I see scorpions on wooden skewers, pig trotters, seafood fried in a variety of sauces. A lady waits for customers behind an assortment of insects. The less adventurous among us could opt for Tanghulu, candied pieces of fruit on a stick. Upon leaving the market, I walk past a man having his ears cleaned at a stand. I am now on the roads. Here, people are much less reserved with use of horns and their shrill sounds fill the air. Many citizens cycle, or use a motorbike. 
 
I have been delivered to a teeming city and I am in the midst of China’s never-ending skyline. Tall cranes keep adding to this forest of glass structures. The skyscrapers stretch further into the azure and people work their way up there too, high above the playful kites dotted levels below. I seek out a less crowded space and reach the city wall. I watch a bride who stands opposite me, in a flowing red dress on the grey stone steps. She is wearing the lucky colour. A cameraman captures this moment of her happiest day for her to keep. 
 
Next, I wander through a passageway lined with wooden benches. People are gathered there, for a carefree afternoon playing mahjong or cards, and the atmosphere is brimming with positivity. A lady in a neon orange high visibility jacket walks along with her large grass broom, sweeping the streets. It is evening, and I watch as the sun sets over lakes and fields. A solitary famer stands in his boat, as fiery orange fuses with deep vermillion, while coral pinks and pastel yellow thaw the heat of the colours that cascade past him into the water. 
 
Now it is night in China, and the colourful light from luminous shops signs splashes onto the streets, while their windows boast glorious displays of exquisite parasols, sweet smelling teas and fine porcelain, delicate red lanterns and traditional ornaments. The skyscrapers have switched on their torches and flashing colourful LEDs now keep the excitement alive. I begin the last part of my day among the locals, having been welcomed into their square dance. Their synchronised movements and the smiles on their faces display how these individuals have come together through this unique exercise. Today’s journey in China is complete and I return. As thoughts from this short glimpse of Chinese culture whirl around my head, I can only dream of the myriad of experiences that lie ahead, waiting to be explored.