Years ago, 1983 to be exact, I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to provide computer network support. The customer installation was having some printer connectivity issues and was not impressed with our product. The Friday of arrival jet-lagged and groggy after 24 hours without sleep, the manager was not impressed with my nodding off as I looked over diagnostics. I recovered on the weekend and showed up bright eyed on Monday sporting a Scottish plaid necktie. The manager being a very proud Scot asked about the clan as it was a tartan he did not recognize. I informed him that I was a Carmichael. More here about the Clan Carmichael.
The environment changed completely. I was treated as the returning son of Mother Scotland. It did not hurt that I provided straight forward solutions to the problems and got them running smoothly. Although I did not drink the single malt whiskey, I enjoyed the haggis, the kippers, and “tats and nips” (potatoes and parsnips). At the end of the two weeks, I took a three day weekend and drove north up to Inverness and Durness. Then, returned by the west coast by the Isle of Skye and Fort William. Unfortunately, I find no photos from that time.
That was my experience of returning to my family’s roots on my mother’s side. Our trip from Nepal into China was a unique experience for my wife as her grandparents came from China and settled in central Malaysia. It is very hard for me to capture everything we experienced. Hiking the Great Wall was one of the high points of our traveling over the past nine months. After the struggles in India and Nepal, China was so easy to get around. We could figure out the subways, the buses, the airports, the menus.
My wife speaks Chinese along with a number of dialects. Frequently, her discussions with taxi drivers, clerks, and locals at restaurants mirrored my experience in Scotland. Many, on learning she came from Malaysia and spoke Chinese so well, seemed to welcome her like a returning daughter. This provided some unique insights into life in China.
I summarize our trip through Kunming, Beijing, and Shanghai with some photos of palaces and temples, meals, and some surprises.
Making herself at home