Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái (恭喜发财) A Chinese New Year’s greeting that translates roughly to “wishing you a prosperous new year.” I won’t say that everyone greets you with the phrase during the Spring Festival, but we did hear it quite frequently.
One time in particular that stands out to me was near a small village outside of Yangshuo. We were strolling alongside the river when we encountered a local family cooking their dinner on a portable stove along the bank. Upon seeing us they immediately began proffering empty bowls and encouraging us to eat with them. Unfortunately, I could see the fish sitting in the soup, so I had to inform that I was allergic and would have to pass, but thanked them regardless. They took in stride as Chinese people often did by laughing. While together we took a few photos and then as we were saying goodbye all the members of the family shouted merrily, Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái. We returned their wishes and went on our way.
To this day over two years later I still remember the eagerness and openness with which the family offered to us, complete strangers, their food and their wishes that we should be healthy and happy in the following year. That’s an atribute about Chinese people that I’ll always remember; the desire to help a stranger in a foreign place. Not everyone on our travels was that way, but more than a fair share were incredibly friendly to us, offering food, directions, to visit in their home, and to take pictures together. Some of those people I can still keep in contact with through WeChat, some we never saw or heard from again, but all of them live on in my memories. So that’s my wish for you reader, that you hay have the chance to travel and experience kindness from strangers wherever you may go.