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Opinion / Blog

Zhengzhou, my Chinese home

By MichaelM (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-04-10 16:57

When I first heard the name of the city I now call “home”, I couldn't pronounce it. Of course I didn't understand Pinyin pronunciation at the time as I do now. I knew little about it. However, after more than three-and-a-half years, I've come to know this city quite well. I planned to stay for a year then go back to America. However, I fell in love with this wonderful city and have no immediate plans to leave. I'm honored to be able to tell you about it.

Zhengzhou is the capital of Henan province, a central region with more than 90 million people. It is located in what I call East Central China.

The country traces its beginnings back 5,000 years. No more than 300 meters from home is the Jinshui River. On this very waterway, archaeologists discovered the remains of the Longshan Culture which dates back to 3,000 B.C.E. 

Many people call Henan the 'Cradle of Chinese Civilization.' Zhengzhou, being far in the interior, is not well known by the outside world. In fact, in a metropolitan area of around 13 million people, there are less than 6,000 foreigners who call Zhengzhou their home.

It is common that people stare at me everywhere I go. As in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen or Guangzhou, it is impossible for a foreigner to dream of blending in here. You are a spectacle everywhere you go. I've often told newcomer foreigners: "If you don't like to be stared at, you're in the wrong city."

The two main attractions in Zhengzhou - both known worldwide - are the Shaolin Temple and the Yellow River. In the mid-1960s, the late David Carradine, a well known American actor, starred in a popular television series called Kung Fu It was a story about a Chinese man who traveled the US and reflected the virtues and skills of the martial art. Segments of the show reflected back to Carradine's character (known as Kwai Chang Caine) and his childhood as he was raised by the monks of Shaolin. I've traveled to 26 countries and have yet to find a person who doesn’t know about kung fu and the Shaolin Temple.

The Yellow River runs just north of Zhengzhou. It is the second longest river in China and one of the longest in the world. I first read about the Yellow River as a child in primary school. It is world famous.

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