Social Environment in Central China

I am in Nanyang for 3 days. Some observation of the social environment:

  1. People have plenty of time
  2. It is very family oriented
  3. Food is the center of people’s life

Let me explain them one by one.

People have Plenty of Time

I guess it is the impression only for people like Wendy and me who just came from Shanghai. We are not not tourist, and we live in part of the family. So we saw normal people’s life. Some one only go to work for half days, and many of them don’t have work. When it is sunny, people bring chairs to the public spaces, and talk, or just sit there. When it is cloudy, people get back to room, and sit on small chairs, chatting. One out of several days, people may be busy enough to get a table to play Mahjong.

For people who work, the schedule is quite different. They go to work at 8:00 AM in the morning , and get back to home for lunch at 12:00 in the noon. The afternoon session starts at 2:00 PM and ends at 6:00 PM. In summer, people can have a good sleep during the noon time, since they need to go back to work at 3:00 PM.

This is not something new to me. That is how life should look like when I was in Luoyang, and I believed everyone in the world lived the same life. It changed a lot after I moved to Shanghai 13 years ago, and this trip just refreshed my memory. It didn’t change in the last 20 years.

It is very Family Oriented

Family is the center of many people’s everyday life. In the last few days, we have lunch together with 6 – 12 people, on the same table, or in rotation. Rotation means the dishes are on the small table, and 6 of us eat our lunch, and someone finish lunch first and gave room to other family members. That is the life of big family. Two or three families (with parents and their one two two children, and even grandchild, Yifan) gather together, and have lunch and dinner happily. The life is waved by the family relationship net, and by "family", we mean the "big family" or the family with the same grandfather. In Shanghai, and many other countries, the same family may already been split up to smallest unit (parent and children), and bigger family (aunts, uncles, grandparents…) only gather occasionally. In many places in China, the gather of bigger family is the day to day life. 

So is the family property. I use other family members electricity-powered motor is just as I use Wendy’s. :-)

Food is the Center of People’s Life

Food is great here. People spent enough time on food (if not 100% of time). Most things people eat are hand-made by family members themselves. In the morning, aunts prepared the breakfast, and we had them. Then they started to prepare lunch already. At night, people prepare the food for the next day. Food cost is a major cost of people’s salary.

This is China

To be more exact, this is still not China. Life in Shanghai is part of China, and life in Nanyang is also part of China. Many people try to find only one type of life that represent the whole China. I don’t think there will be such a "China lifestyle".

6 Comments

  1. Wow, I just stumbled on your blog while looking for a hotel for my family to stay in when they come visit me. I love it! You are my hero! Did you ever read Lin Yutang or George Orwell (His essays, not his famous anti-totalitarian books)? The energy of your blog kind of reminds of them: rational, critical, but with a down-to-earth love of life. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. Jianshuo, the lifestyle(a life of ease) what you describe is very close to what in my hometown, which is a very small town. When I go back hometown from Shanghai and stay there for a long time, sometimes I feel uncomfortable. Hehe.

  3. in Shanghai and Beijing, we are more working for day; in Luoyang and Nanyang, we are more living for day.i always thinks whether we are more materialization in modern society.

  4. China is a big country, lifestyle in different places differs a lot, and that is part of the mystery of China!

  5. Hi Jianshuo! My husband and I are going to teach English in Nanyang from August, and it’s been very difficult to find much information about the city. Thank you for your blog: it’s very interesting and informative, and has given us some idea of what to expect! We’re very much looking forward to arriving and seeing it for ourselves.

  6. Hello Jianshou,

    My name is Earl and I read your blog when I was looking for information on Nanyang. I was planning on taking a trip there over the winter break (I teach at a small national university in Korea).

    I’ve never been to China before so this will be my first trip. I was going to go to Nanyang because I have an online friend there and I am not a big sightseeing person. I’d rather skip the traditional sights of China like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City to visit a person I’ve never met before in a city that I know nothing about.

    I plan on taking the ferry from Incheon to Lianyungang and then the train from there to Nanyang, a trip that Google maps says takes 14 hours total. Spend a few days in Nanyang, take the plane to Shanghai, travel back to Lianyungang and then the ferry back to Incheon.

    If any of this sounds like a bad idea, please help me out and tell me a better way.

    Thanks,

    Earl

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