My first trip to China

First Trip to China in 1986

I made it to China for the first time in 1986. After pouring through the China guides I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it would be like. Crowded streets and places, beautiful scenery, lots of bicycles, basic accommodations... It was all of that and plenty more...

As much as I considered China "home" and part of my heritage, I quickly realized how much of a foreign land this was.

  • I remember my first encounter with a squat toilet…
  • and graduating to a new level of bargaining with the street vendors…
  • and dad who was our official translator, not being able to communicate in some of the areas due to the different dialects... he had to resort to writing things down!

Traveling in the mainland then was still very restricted. We were not able to come and go as we pleased. Even though we were only being shown a side of China that we as tourists were allowed to see, it did not diminish the amazing experience and wonderful memories from that first glimpse into the motherland.

china travel

We could not use the local currency. Special "money" was issued for travelers: "Foreign Exchange Certificates", and locals were not allowed to conduct their transactions in this "currency".

We were supposed to use this at the hotels and state-sponsored shops, factories, and other establishments.

We had few and limited contact with the people, mostly by not being able to speak the language and talk to them directly. I did regret that. I knew that learning Mandarin Chinese had to be added to my ongoing list of life projects…

The four weeks flew by, and we barely touched on a few of the "important" places. I knew then I would be back. There were already the signs of things to come, change was already underway.

And I didn't have to wait too long for the perfect opportunity to arrive...

Back to the Roots and Asian Cultures

Chinese Dragon

Things had been happening in South East Asia for quite a while. All that buzz about the "Four Asian Tigers": Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.

I wanted to be part of this dynamism, work in a totally different environment, enjoy the cultures, take a chance to learn mandarin, and, yes, scuba dive some of the most beautiful waters in the world.

It seemed like a good time for a move. So where to? I took a deep breath and by the end of 1988 I had packed it to Taiwan.

When I first got there, I was on a two year plan. Well, two years turned into six. Things were happening way too quickly. Martial law had just been lifted and the economy was booming.

During this time, I would travel constantly back to China, I saw the beginnings of what would become the manufacturing plant to the world, the progress and challenges underway, most of all, the optimism and hope of the people. Being part of that even in a small way, was very rewarding.

It was an amazing time, personally and professionally, and my Chinese roots were firmly planted.


Our First Trip to China more than 20 years ago

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