My relationship with Guiyang City has always been complicated. I spent my year there trying to be positive, when I was working at a school that treated me quite poorly. Culture Shock was hard on me, and I found myself extremely homesick. Making that big of a move can be difficult for even the strongest relationships. I had a lot going on when I lived in Guiyang in 2014 and 2015.
Since then, of course, I’ve changed. I’ve adapted pretty well to life in China, I’ve become more self sufficient here and learned quite a bit more of the language. I’ve also “found myself”. In Guiyang, I was trying to figure out who I was outside of my 8 years in sales. Who was I, if I wasn’t living in small town Canada? Now I know who I am. I’m a musician. I’m an animal rescue. I’m a blogger. I’ve accomplished things that I never imagined, like creating a Merchandise Line to raise money for animal rescue. I also weigh 10kg less than I did when I lived in Guiyang. I’m more comfortable in my own skin, and more confident in what I’m capable of.
All this is to say that going back to Guiyang these last 2 summers has been eye opening. So many of the grudges I’d held in my 5 years away are gone. I don’t feel small and shy, the way I did 6 years ago. I have since surrounded myself with people and peers who treat me like I am enough. I am adequate. I went from being on the brink of walking out of my job in Guiyang, to being put in charge of an entire English Program in the school where I’m teaching now.
Guiyang has developed so much in the past 6 years. There is a metro here now, and the city is much better connected with the high speed rail. Traffic has improved as a result of the metro, and with Didis being available now, transportation above ground has become easier too.
Of course, some things still haven’t changed. Many of our favorite restaurants are still there. The city still has a great street food scene, and all our favorite treats. On the other hand, Guiyang got its very first McDonald’s while we lived there, and now there are many all around the city. Starbucks has popped up everywhere as well.
The scenery around Guiyang is still as beautiful as ever as well. I haven’t seen a city in China as green as Guiyang.
Surprisingly, some of the closest friends we made in Guiyang have still been around over the last few years we’ve visited. Catching up with them was fantastic. Some of my students also got in touch with me to meet up. Seeing these people 5-6 years later reminded me that although we didn’t have many friends in Guiyang, we did have a couple of really great ones.
Going through all of these old photos got me thinking of all the incredible kids I got to teach, of course, and although my place of employment back then wasn’t ideal, the job itself is what kept me going. There are kids there that I will never forget.
Of course, visiting Guiyang is very different from living there again, but these last two trips have been so great, I can’t help but consider the idea of us ending back there for a year or two. Suzhou is beautiful and comfortable, but the food and excitement of Guiyang can’t be beat. I also can’t help but wonder whether things would have been very different for us if we had been there after we’d already been in China for a few years first.
I suppose this post is more of a reflection on how places and people change over time. When we left Guiyang in July of 2015, I could never have imagined I would end up loving the city so much just a few years later! Traveling really does shift perspectives, and I think there’s a lot of that happening here.
I have 2 posts planned for Guiyang. One to give people an idea of what can be done in the city, and the other with ideas of things you can do as a day or weekend trip if you come to Guizhou Province.