Returning ‘home’

Last time I went to Hillary’s home town was in 2018 when we went to see her family at Spring Festival when she was still pregnant with Oscar! How time flies!!

Well, this week, I’ll be back there once again! This time, with Oscar, taking him to visit all his relatives in China for the first time. I hear they are very excited!

Let me first start by talking about the last time I came here and then tomorrow I’ll share with you my impressions second time around.

We took the hight speed train to get to Nanjing and then we were picked up by Hillary’s uncle. He took us to Ma’anshan, their hometown . This is a ‘small’ city by Chinese standards (with ‘only 2.2 million residents), but it is where Hillary’s uncles and aunts are all from.

As this was the first time since me and Hillary got married, the apartment was decorated as if it was a wedding…. I wasn’t too happy about it, because I wasn’t sure if the relatives had been told this is supposed to be a wedding or not. . Little did I know, I was kinda being lied to! Anyway, that’s for another post.. Maybe tomorrow haha!

The area the family home is in is a newly built one. As with all construction works here, developers only care about the part they are contracted to work on and it appears no one cares about the surrounding areas.. So, check out the photos below..

You buy a home here next to a pile of rubble, because that rubble is 1 metre too far to the left to clear up..

At the time, Mobike was everywhere! More on that in another post..

Fireworks for every occasion! I think I’ve only ever lit fireworks myself while in China. Back home, I didn’t dare! I can’t say I think it’s any safer here than back home though. There are warnings all over with photos of people who have had their brains blasted out by fireworks. Kind of like the cigarette packaging in Europe.


Later, we had a big dinner! All sorts of stuff, including lots of stuff I don’t like and wouldn’t normally eat..

You might notice that everyone is wearing coats inside! This is a thing! In the south of China, there is no central heating so people have really really cold homes! If it were up to me, I’d turn on the AC because they all have a heat function – and they really work! But, here, they opened the windows and wore coats indoors!!

I was FREEZING!!! I resisted as long as I could, but eventually even I had to put on my coat. It was just too cold! I honestly don’t understand this part of the culture..

Red envelopes (红包)!

We collected quite a few red envelopes! There are so many strange customs (in my opinion). As soon as we got red envelopes, we noted who it was from and how much money they put inside. We can’t use the money but instead, we keep it until each and every person’s red envelope is ‘returned’. When someone gets married, has a baby etc, we check how much they gave us, add a few hundred RMB and then give it to them.

Personally I think it takes away from the authenticity of giving gifts. Imagine if we needed to do this back home? Thinking what the person got you for Christmas or whatever and then giving them something almost equal back. Instead of just thinking at the time what gift you think is really appropriate. So complicated..

It’s funny, when I look back at this photo – we thought Hillary’s bump was so big here! Nothing compared to what it would be like in the summer!

I left as soon as I could – I found it all a bit overwhelming and I kept feeling awkward all the time. I left and came back alone a few days earlier than everyone else.

Have my impressions changed? Come back tomorrow and find out! Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think about Ma’anshan!

See ya!



  1. He, tell me about the freezing homes. But here most people don’t wear their coat indoors (I think that’s a very “countryside” thing to do, hehe) and turn on the hot aircon. Which doesn’t do much, but it helps a little bit. In the winter I wear 3 layers when I’m home (but not the coat).

    The food looks pretty normal to me, what don’t you normally eat?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know why, but I’m just totally against wearing so much at home lol. I think I should always be able to wear one layer, whether it be a T-shirt or a sweater etc. But a coat? I think that’s crazy. So in my apartment in winter, we have the air con on full blast, full heat and for us it’s warm enough to wear T-shirt and shorts. But, that’s with the central heating too.. Before/after central heating comes on, we’re also in a few layers because the apartment is so poorly insulated.

      About the food, I don’t eat intestines/organs etc and there were dishes with mystery parts mixed in. It felt awkward investigating each dish before eating so I stuck to the ones I could clearly tell what they were.. Whenever I ask ‘what’s this?’ The answer is always ‘rou 肉’, then I’m just like, Ok then I won’t eat it if you can’t be specific (in my head). Do you eat the intestines etc?


  2. Well, wearing shorts in the middle of the winter is not very environmentally friendly xD But I definitely don’t want to wear my coat indoors either.

    Hahaha, right, everything is rou. And if you say you don’t eat rou, what about chicken? xD I don’t mind eating intestines, they’re eaten in Spain too. But it’s not something I would choose myself in a restaurant or when grocery shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

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