at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Tag: Jiubujiang

China Circle - On the Mountain

Running in a Circle… in the Heart of China

Three years – has it really been three years already?! – after the first time I visited the place my wife grew up and her parents still (mainly) live, deep in the countryside of Hunan, we returned.

One of the things I returned to was running in a circle.

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Jiubujiang Reservoir Lake Swim

at-home-making/adventuring, In the Heart of China

“My” China is not that of so many a visitor to or expat in that country.

I have not lived there for so long, took quite a long time before I finally went and stayed, but then it was neither the Beijing or Shanghai (or other large city) of most tourists and expats where I found myself.

It was Xiangtan, Hunan, where I lived and worked for three years (with only a month’s each interruption in Beijing and Shanghai and, more recently, another 6 months in Beijing).

With the woman I got to know and love there, and everywhere, I have made it even deeper into the country, to stays with her parents in her home town of Jiubujiang.

Where that is? Here:

It’s the China of old stories in rural settings, a China where a foreigner is still a strange sight – and also the China where many migrants working in coastal factories come from (or have returned to) and where development is also starting to both take its toll and bring improvements.

Jiubujiang Construction

There used to be “only” rice fields here, now it’s meant to become a tourist village…

(If one wants to delve deeper, it is also the China where many revolutionaries and generals came from, not least Mao Zedong himself – and fittingly for my interests, many people like to blame the Hunanese penchant for the chile pepper for all that martial prowess and revolutionary / “red” zeal ;)

So, being there in China is another situation where I am “adventuring”. And making myself at home.

Admittedly, “adventuring” there is different from doing so when in Austria.

I grew up in Austria, after all.

Therefore, it takes somewhat more special things to be thrown out of a routine and into the spirit of “something else” that makes the ordinary less usual and more eye-catching.

In China, just living with the parents-in-law, going for walks, accompanying the mother-in-law on the local market, having fun going for a swim in the local reservoir-lake (which is increasingly being turned into a tourist attraction), is somewhat adventurous.

Jiubujiang Reservoir Lake Swim

Swimming in the reservoir lake of Jiubujiang… This is right below a sign saying “The lake is large, the water is deep… No swimming!” ;)

But, it is also an at-home-making, trying to get to really know the place and live there, not just be the tourist who sees nothing but the most noteworthy and most strongly promoted attractions.

This is easier to realize you need, and to do, when you go somewhere other than “home”.

In fact, I may have noticed that whole problem-we-don’t-know-we-have of our need to make ourselves at home (rather than think that “home” is something we naturally have and get to and then know everything about, merely through our familiarity with it) because I went somewhere else for long enough.

It is only too easy, though, to remain superficially “touristy” both at home and somewhere else.

If you want to become at home in this life, in the places you are, in this world, you’ll have to make yourself at home. Educate yourself, explore, experience.

It’s worth it.

20 Seconds China: Market Malunderstanding

This is not the product you are looking for…

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20 Seconds China: Jiubujiang Nights

Having just talked of outdoors/roadside living in China, let’s also go for a video impression from a small-town Chinese summer’s night…

Boat Outlook

JiuXiang Lake and The Construction of Tourism in Rural China

China is well known as the place where construction, whether it is cities that are built up or from scratch or entire landscapes that are being re-arranged, is booming. Or perhaps, bubbling and waiting to burst.

But then, some places, things look different.

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Building up, growing food

Where In The World…? Small-Town China Impressions

Greetings from China with a few impressions of where I am and what this place looks like. Not my usual kind of posts, but most photo- and video-rich posts of impressions and on at-home-ness will have to wait until the return to Europe and faster internet connections. Still, it’s a very different China from that of the ubiquitous “This is China and this is how it’s rising” that keeps being focused on Beijing, Shanghai, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong area. So…


View China 2013 in a larger map

I might add the other places of interest to this trip to the map later, but just wanted to give you a chance at finding me on the map, more or less ;)

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