Jessica and her husband Ming Jie spend Spring Festival at Ming's hometown in Zhanjiang city, South China's Guangdong province. [Photo provided by Jessica to chinadaily.com.cn]
"Jia Mu-eh!" my husband's mother shouts loudly from the outdoor kitchen. "Jia Mu-eh" means having dinner in the dialect of my husband's hometown in Zhanjiang city, South China's Guangdong province. This is the only phrase I know. Thankfully though, most of his relatives can speak Mandarin, so communicating with them is not a big issue. The only ones who cannot understand me are his little cousins. They won't start studying Mandarin until they enter kindergarten. My husband's English is better than my Chinese, so he's my personal translator when I can't speak what I want to say.
This is my fourth time visiting his hometown and the first time as his wife. We got our marriage license last year, a day before we went back to Beijing so there wasn't much time for celebration besides a shot of baijiu and congratulations all around.
Typically, my husband and I will take the "slow" train from Beijing, where we live, to Zhanjiang. A 37-hour trip in a sleeper car. Due to work this year, we had to travel separately, him leaving a week before me. He, once again, rode the train and I, for the first time, flew there. For me, four hours was much more tolerable than 37. Landing on the tiny runway at the airport in Zhanjiang was the start of my holiday.