From the Readers

Encounter China, Encounter Guilin in the rain

Updated: May 5, 2023 By Ðoàn Phuöng Hoa Print
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[Vietnam] Ðoàn Phuöng Hoa, Guangxi Normal University

Ever since a long time ago, I have accumulated many small wishes: I wanted to understand Chinese movies without relying on subtitles, I wanted to read Chinese newspapers without linguistic barriers, I also wanted to understand Chinese songs without looking at the lyrics, and many other things I could accomplish only when I learned Chinese well. Five years ago, I was given the opportunity to study in China with the support of a scholarship at a university in Guilin, a city with peerless landscapes. This opportunity was like a superb gift package from the God of Fate to help fulfill my wishes.

Immersed in the sea of the Chinese language, wandering in the atmosphere of Chinese culture, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Guilin, bathing in the mountain breeze and the light rain of Guilin, I really felt that the days when I studied here in Guilin were extremely good. This June, after attending the online oral defense for graduation thesis held by the university, I was already a graduate from a Chinese university. I closed my eyes, and the scenes of my studying in China slowly appeared in mind like the frames of a film. I thought no matter where I would go in the world, when I think of China, the first thing that comes to my mind must be Guilin, the beautiful Guilin in the rain.

Ðoàn Phuöng Hoa [Photo provided to]

At first, I did not quite like rain. But the first day I came to my alma mater, I was greeted by a fresh, cool and misty rain mixed with the fragrance of osmanthus. The rain had no color and no shape, whose softest touch with the faint fragrance of osmanthus brushed my cheeks like gentle wind. Wasn’t this feeling similar to that expressed in “Apricot petals fall like a drizzle, threatening to moisten my cassock; Soft breeze combs the willows, bringing a tinge of cool to my face”? The soft drizzle seemed to be warmly calling me, “Welcome to Guilin! Hope you like the life here!” The moment I set foot on my alma mater, great expectations for the upcoming study life had emerged in my heart.

Rainy days were very common in Guilin, and the rain here was also very special. It was like a sentimental girl, who shed tears from time to time. The rain here bathed the days of my college life, and many, many wonderful experiences had happened in the rain: when it rained, I liked to sit by the window in the library, enjoying the rain as I read; I liked to read Tang poems accompanied by the rhythm of the raindrops; I liked to walk in the rain with friends under umbrellas; I liked to watch the green hills in the light rain; I liked to watch the Li River in the smoky rain...

Sunrise at Guangxi Normal University [Photo provided to]

“Read ten thousand books, travel ten thousand miles.” The rainy seasons in Guilin vividly colored my youthful years. When it rained, I liked to take a fully charged camera, take a bus that drove through the osmanthus flowers all the way, and integrate myself into this quiet and leisurely small city. Sometimes, I would start a trip on a whim. The best choice would be to take a boat tour of the misty Li River. It was just like “The boat travels on the blue wave, the people tour in a beautiful painting.” What was unfolded before my eyes was a fairyland on a long and misty scroll. The silhouette of the fish eagles and the old man on the boat in the distance emerged through the thin smoke, showing a breathtaking scene on an ink and wash painting. Wandering among the beautiful mountains and rivers, if the sky cleared, I might chance to see a dreamy rainbow appearing on the distant mountain peaks. Sometimes, I would get on a bamboo raft and float gently on the river like a cloud. The raft, sometimes following the wind and rain and sometimes countering their direction, was always moving forward. This taught me to have a good attitude in face of difficulties. The road of life was inevitably rough and bumpy, but we should maintain an optimistic attitude and a will to persevere to the end.

Scenery in Guilin [Photo provided to]

The rain of this city cannot be erased from my memory. It gently and softly drifts in every corner of the campus and silently infiltrates the landscapes of Guilin. It will stay in my memory of youth for a long, long time. For me, these five years have been such a blessing! Because I have encountered China, and I have encountered Guilin in the rain.

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).

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