Presents from afar

Chinese people have this habit of bringing souvenirs for everybody when they go on a trip. Their favourite souvenirs are local snacks or food specialties from the places they visited. If you work with Chinese people you will probably try some delicacies from all over China after a major Chinese holiday and even after someone comes back from a business trip. But don’t get too excited, these treats usually consist of dried meat or fish, or maybe pastries. Those are the kind of things that are easily brought back home.

I don’t normally buy souvenirs when I travel but I made some exceptions after seeing that everybody in the office was doing it. Last year when I traveled to Shengsi Island I bought individually wrapped pieces of different fish and seafoods and shared them with my Chinese colleagues. Another time when I came back from Spain I brought chorizo (cured pork sausage) and prepared mini sandwiches for them. Last time I brought chocolates. These small gestures made me earn points with everybody! One of the Spanish engineers used to never bring anything when he came to Suzhou and my Chinese colleagues called him stingy. I told him and since then he started bringing chocolates. People like him better now!

Sometimes the souvenirs are not food. A few months ago one colleague went to Jingdezhen, a city in Jiangxi province famous for its porcelain, and brought me a huge decorative dish. It is not something that I would have bought myself, but I appreciated that she thought of me!

This past week were the Chinese National Day holidays and we went to Taiwan. I’m between jobs right now so I don’t have colleagues to bring things to, but C. got many Taiwanese specialties for his family, friends and workmates: dried little fish, nougats, candies, pastries, several types of tea… I hope he gives everything away because I don’t want any food temptations in the house! (I need to lose weight).

Among the teas he got there is one with a funny packaging.

Tea bags with Chinese and Taiwanese politicians!

Tea bags with Chinese and Taiwanese politicians!

 

There are several versions with different characters and famous people from China and Taiwan. Pictured above is the “Strait Talk Pack”. So when you have a tea, you get a politician on your cup.

Ma Ying-jeou (current president of Taiwan) enjoying a relaxing cup of tea.

Ma Ying-jeou (current president of Taiwan) enjoying a relaxing cup of tea.

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