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The faces we see in New Zealand are quite different to the ones we see in China. In New Zealand we see Chinese in bulk-group tours with coach doors opening and spilling their contents outside our door-being herded in to the Restaurant next door. I do not feel friendly towards these alien vistors. I feel they are invading my kiwi world and I do not want to share it with them. I watch them spit, and drop their toothpicks, their cigarette butts and their litter outside our door with disgust. I do not look forward to visiting their country and experiencing their people en masse.

But after ten days in China, I have a completely different opinion of these people. Wherever I go I get a smile. The receptionist, the breakfast waitress, the concierge, the waiter outside the Italian Restaurant, the lady in the coolie hat picking weeds out of the lawn, the market man crouched beside his basket of greens, or turtles, or snakes, or fish, or fruit. The Chinese seem genuinely pleased to see us “Round Eyes” and welcome us to their country-to share their culture with us. It makes me feel a little ashamed with how I treat them in our country.

We have only had one uneasy moment and it was fleeting. We jumped in the taxi to head to Haitang Bay from Yalong Bay and our driver was distinctly upset with the thought of taking us. He drove straight down to the taxi pool (20 metres away), leapt out, opened my door, shouted in rapid Chinese at his fellow taxi drivers, who then shouted back at him, much waving of hands, and put us in another taxi with another driver, who also did not appear happy with his task ahead. He became a little happier when he asked us to pay double the usual fare and we did. Cheered him up no end! We knew we were paying too much, but were thankful to be at our new destination, and it was too hot to argue. We have since learned that Taxis do not come to Haitang bay as it is a little bit out of the way-in the future it is going to be the centre of the universe with 148 luxury hotels planned for this area. The Chinese money is pouring in.

We head home tomorrow-we have a day to find our way around Gungzhou city, and then the 12 hour flight with China Southern Airlines. I leave with a different appreciation of the Chinese Experience. We leave armed with the words “shopping centre” and” Airport” written in Chinese to help us navigate our way.

English is not common. But a smile goes a long way and says a lot.

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