Anybody who knows me in the real world, is well aware of my obsession with all things China. My Sino-love affair began after a trip to San Francisco with my mom when I was sixteen years old. A simple walk through Chinatown that changed my life forever.

It was the first time in my life that I had been exposed to another culture in such a powerful way. Growing up in Texas, I had lived what you might call a  homogenous existence. The little Buddhas lining the souvenir shops, the roast duck hanging in the windows, the new foreign language surrounding me; it was a pivotal moment that changed my course completely.

 

Chinatown San Francisco

Chinatown San Francisco: The place that changed it all. photo credit: Curtis Cronn

When I went off to college I had the intention of majoring in International Business. I would become a powerful businesswoman working in Asia, making a ton of money. Unfortunately, business bored the hell out of me and by my second year I had changed my major to East Asian Studies with a concentration in China.

 

From there I realized my dream of travelling to China. I studied abroad in Nanjing and got to travel throughout the country that had grown to mean so much to me. Although my Chinese language has faded, and I haven’t been back since, China still remains a giant part of who I am.

Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing, China.

 

This year I will be returning to my second homeland to relish in the sights and smells… and street food. This time I will be venturing out of the major cities of the East and heading towards Lhasa, an adventure that has always been on the very top of my bucket list. As another Chinese New Year passes, I am reminded of some of my favorite moments in China- as well as the places I still yearn to visit.

 

 

My Favorite Moments in China

 

A Snow Angel on the Great Wall of China

I visited the Great Wall on a very wintery day. The ancient stone was covered in a thick layer of ice and snow, making it difficult to climb to the the top. My camera was stolen only two minutes before I arrived, a lesson in professional pickpocketing I will never forget. Although I have hardly any pictures of my time in China, the moment I laid in the snow on top of the Great Wall of China and made a perfect snow angel made the lack of documentation not matter in the least. That moment is still one I cherish above almost any other.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China draped in winter.

 

Swimming in the Shanghai Skyline

The Chinese to Dollar conversion can sometimes make impossible ideas within your reach. One weekend in Shanghai I got to stay in the Shanghai International Convention Center, a recognizable landmark that you may not know by name, but definitely do by sight. Directly next to the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, the room was by far the nicest place I had ever stayed. Better still, was the swimming pool was in  one of the globes themselves, offering spectacular views of the Bund and river below.

 

Shanghai Skyline

I swam in that globe! photo credit: Steve Webel

 

The First Five Minutes

You know that feeling when you have dreamt of something your entire life, and have finally realized it? My first drive in China was one of my favorite moments for this very reason. I remember hearing my heart beat in my head, as the taxi zipped through traffic. The billboards, people walking on the sidewalks, the horns honking, and an incredible city before me like I had never seen. So many buildings, so many people. The single moment when I realized I was finally there, and actually made it.

Suzhou Gardens

Suzhou Gardens, Jiangsu

 

Future Moments in China

 

These are some of the places I am heading to soon, or desperately want to visit as soon as possible!

Everest Base Camp

I have been looking forward to an Everest Base Camp adventure for a decade. Starting in Lhasa to visit the Potala Palace, and then joining a trek to do it ‘the slow way’. I can’t wait to see the tiny villages hanging off Himalayan hillsides, see how I deal with acclimatization, and take a picture with the famous EBC yellow sign. Ending the trip in Kathmandu, I have no doubt it will be every bit as epic as I anticipate.

EBC

The top of the world. (Or at least the bottom of the top.) photo credit: nucksfan604

 

Hong Kong

I really regret that I didn’t visit Hong Kong when I had the opportunity. I still envision moving there one day, the perfect mix of China goodness and a powerful expatriate community. I can’t wait to climb to the top of Victoria Peak and get the bird’s eye view of Hong Kong, take an authentic junk with some Tsingtao and explore the islands, and of course taste the Hong Kong style street food. I’d love to  take a flight with Emirates Airlines direct from London, as I have heard it is the only way to reach Hong Kong in style.

 

Hong Kong

Wouldn’t you love to drink a beer with this scenery in front of you? photo credit: ncburton

 

Sichuan Province

Okay, this one is admittedly mostly about food. I love spicy. As spicy as you can give it to me. Naturally, I also love Chinese food in general. Someday I hope to venture to Sichuan for a culinary adventure unlike anything I have done before. Don’t get me wrong, I would still love to see the Dazu Rock Carvings, the otherworldly travertine landscapes of Huanglong, and pack in some serious panda cuddles time. But, seriously- the food.

 

I don’t think my love for all things China will ever change. Come over to my house, and you can see that my Asian obsession is probably diagnosable. My grandma once told me that I was Chinese in a past life, and I don’t know about all that stuff, but it would explain the deep and unexplainable connection I have with the history, people, and country of my beloved 中国.

 

This post was written in conjunction with Emirates Airlines. All content is my own.

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