Unlike many travelers who register here, I wasn't able to plan meticulously ahead for my trip. I was thinking China... but exactly where and when?
By the time answers were available, finding and communicating with a suitable host became a challenge. There simply wasn't enough time. Though I did pick a host and send her a message, I wasn't holding my breath. Upon arrival, I could do no more than to settle for routine -- checking into a hotel and girding for a solo tour.
Two days later, I had the chance to go online again. It was only then when I discovered her reply glowing on my screen, right there in her hometown!
I'll save the details that followed. Instead, I give you an excerpt from my thank-you letter to Anna Nian (6723), my wonderful Chinese host:
Hi Anna & Family
Greetings from Hongkong! Despite being back for so many days, my mind is still packed full of fond memories from Xiamen.
How do you find the pastries from Gulongyu? Did your little girl enjoy them? I certainly enjoyed her, very much indeed! Being a totally unexpected boon for my vacation, I solemnly pronounce her "My Xiamen Sweetheart!" Under loving care of a picture-perfect family, she'll no doubt grow up to be a smart, cheerful darling. Bless you all!
Speaking of hosting foreign visitors, your home is as cozy as can be, and you guys have been so kind and attentive to me. BTW, I'm so glad you introduced me to your very lively (and very lovely too!) colleague from Chongqing; it's easy to see why you charming pair of ladies are such good friends. Without your generosity, my vacation wouldn't have been so enjoyable and unique. Hey, if I happened to have done anything silly during my stay, please don't take it to heart... because being silly is part of the fun!
...When you come again to see your relatives here in Hongkong, be sure to drop me a line. Let's have some tea, dinner, or whatever you fancy together. Allow me the privilege of repaying your kindness with interest!
Odd as it was, my trip turned out much better than anticipated, hence a well-deserved compliment to TourBoarding.
You guys have enabled a much richer experience for anyone looking to visit China and then, get to know the country and it's people in a refreshing, meaningful way... I can bet many Chinese hosts look upon it in much the same way too!
All the best,