Saturday, May 19, 2012

On becoming a Sinophile

On his first trip to China
My husband has become an unabashed Sinophile, which, as a macho motorcycle rider, is about the last thing I ever thought he'd turn into.

When we got married in 2002, I'd already spent two years working in Beijing and traveling around the Middle Kingdom, plus I'd been back to China twice since my last contract with China Daily ended in 1998. I was having withdrawal symptoms as it had been a couple of years since I'd been there, and proposed a trip for our first anniversary. He wasn't having any of it. No way he'd ever go to China, he declared, especially since the SARS epidemic was still going on (though in the waning days). Let's go somewhere else. So we went to London -- a city I'd visited several times before -- instead. He got sick the morning we were to return home and puked his guts out across the Atlantic. I told you we should have gone to China, I smirked.

Six months later, in the spring of 2004, I broached the subject again. I NEED to go to China, I told him. No way, he responded. OK, then, I'll go by myself. No way, he said. Never mind that before we were married, I'd spent 30 years traveling around the world by myself, and was perfectly capable of going to China again on my own. He reluctantly agreed to accompany me for a quick trip to Beijing, complaining all the way. Some good Chinese friends of mine met our late flight at the airport and got us settled into our hotel near the Chongwenmen subway stop. The next morning we took the subway to Tian'anmen Square, walking the length of it before touring the Forbidden City. His vocabulary that morning consisted of one word: awesome, and just a few hours later he was making plans for our next trip to China. And I thought you didn't want to come to China, I muttered to myself.

Two years later I returned to Beijing with three friends on a "ladies only" tour, and he complained because he wasn't invited. (Hey, sweetie pie, at least I didn't go by myself!)

He is the now driving force behind our trips to China and is pushing for us to live there for awhile. We're thinking about getting an apartment in Beijing and using it has a base as we travel around the country.

P.S. My husband has never gotten sick coming back from China, though it seems he barfs his way across the Atlantic coming back from every trip to Europe.

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