A recent City Weekend article, “Culture of Complaint“, investigates the constant whining among expats in China. I’m as big a whiner as the next person, but the topic of the first complaint is what caught my eye:
After a three hour drive along an unfinished road in a rattling “mianbao che,” Anna Grace Carter and her husband finally reached their new home-a cement block building located on a dirt road off an empty highway in Zunyi, Guizhou province.
“The first six months I hated it and wanted to go home,” Carter admits. “I tried to like it. I pretended I liked it.” Despite the fact her apartment didn’t lack for amenities, she wasn’t used to the “squatty potty” and certainly not ready for the crushing isolation that comes with being one of a handful of foreigners in town.
I was lucky enough to visit Zunyi on a bicycle trip last February with SHTig and ODB. We loved it! It’s a great little city in northern Guizhou, famous in ChiCom lore as the site of the 1935 Zunyi Conference, where Mao stepped forward as the supreme leader of the Communists in China. Read more about the Zunyi Conference here.
Zunyi sits along a river in a mountainous area with beautiful scenery and clean air. It’s a major destination for Party-sponsored tours and conferences, and as a result it feels like a prosperous place, unlike most of the rest of Guizhou. We spent Chinese New Year’s Day there, watching a lion dance from while sipping freshly brewed coffee at a Dicos overlooking a town square. It was certainly not the place for Ms. Carter, though:
Coming to China was not Carter’s idea. Her husband, who had been fascinated by Chinese culture and kung fu movies for years, decided to make the move when Anna was unable to find work in Italy. Neither of them spoke a word of Chinese…
Now happily ensconced in Beijing, Carter, whose dream job is to be a presenter on CCTV9, finds that she complains much less. “In Zunyi people stared at me and treated me like an alien, not like a person,” says Carter, who would even avoid going out because of the pressure.
Anyway, if you have the chance to go there, whether for a day or a year, I highly recommend Zunyi.