As the winner of the #MyChinaExperience photo contest, Kevin Mao is on a two-week adventure through China. For him, it’s an opportunity to explore his ancestral motherland more deeply than he’s been able to on previous trips.

After a whirlwind 24 hours in Hong Kong and a few days in Guilin, Kevin made his way to Shanghai to meet up with several members of his extended family. His grandparents, two aunts, an uncle, and a cousin greeted him with a home-cooked meal. It was a moment to share with family he doesn’t see often enough.

“The first two times I saw my family in China was when I was so young that I hardly remember anything from those visits,” he says. He’s visited the country three other times, but did not see his grandparents on the last trip.

“My grandpa was much healthier than when I last saw him, but everyone else seemed about the same. Which is to say, happy and healthy.”



“Luckily I am pretty fluent with basic conversational Mandarin, so I didn’t have trouble communicating,” he added. Regardless, there were still a few things left unsaid. His Chinese is not as advanced as he’d like, so he couldn’t go much beyond the surface with his aunts and uncles. It was even harder with his grandparents.”With my grandma and grandpa there is more of a language barrier because they mainly speak Shanghainese, which I’m not very good at,” he said. “Despite this, it was just really nice to spend some time with them.”


He also had a few friends in Shanghai, some through Instagram, who helped show him the city’s impressive architecture and hidden spots. After having hot, humid weather during the early half of his trip, he welcomed the cooler temperatures of the final stop.”I’d never experienced weather in Shanghai that wasn’t blazing hot, so it was a very nice change. I’ve been really enjoying the sound of Chinese spoken all around me, the mix of ultra-modern and vintage architecture in Shanghai…and the stunning views from our hotels (which also happen to smell amazing), ” he said.



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