Submerging Myself Into The Chinese Experience At Tai Hu Home

Tai Hu Home was one of the best places that I visited during my trip to China. I didn’t want to start the official brain dump about this retreat until I had enough time to finish my thought. Thankfully, I’m currently on a two week break – so NOW is it!

I spent half of my time in China touring and walking and hiking (ok, not hiking – but they tried to get me to hike) and exploring. When we finally made it to Tai Hu Home, I was ready to decompress, wind down, and absorb in the culture and experiences you think of when China comes to mind.

Pottery Class

During my time at the retreat, I took a pottery class, did tai chi with two masters, experienced several tea ceremonies, and made my own dumplings. Are you kidding me? Total MAGIC.
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But here is the beauty about Tai Hu Home: you aren’t just taking a pottery class with someone on staff. You are working with a family who has a history of tradition in the industry. They were there to walk us through every step. But through it all we got to learn about their family , their story, their lives. It was like reading a book but the characters were right in front of us. A historian’s dream!

Thankfully, on top of all of this we had their guidance and the assistance of their team as well.

As you can see from my below video… I needed it . :O)

I didn’t care. I thought it was super cool that we made cups from SCRATCH – LITERALLY. 
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image16Here is the final result. (The owl is for my daughter – don’t mind her. Not really for the blog but I didn’t have a picture without her in it. Pay no attention to the owl behind the curtain…..)

Tai Chi

Growing up, my father used to love Kung Fu. He used to practice religiously. I vividly remember his feet – how bruised they were. I was actually afraid of them! Funny now to even admit that. During the weekends, the two of us would binge watch one Kung Fu movie after the other. I guess soaking in all that bonding time has left a deep seeded appreciation for the art and an affection I cannot shake for the movements and for the culture.

Fast forward 30 years, and there I was sitting in a court yard watching something that was of course not Kung Fu – but fluid just the same. I wasn’t on my couch with my father – someone who is no longer in my life. I wasn’t in Queens watching a movie that had subtitles rolling alongside the bottom of the screen. No. I was in China. In a courtyard. In front of two Tai Chi masters with the privilege to enjoy a performance that not many will ever have the chance to enjoy.

And I was doing everything in my power to not cry – and failing I might add.

I watched one performance and was certainly wowed. The dance, the movement, the energy   — they were all simply magical. It kept me very much in the moment and we all were so very thankful that we were given the opportunity to witness the sequence.

But when the second performance started – and performance is the wrong word by the way – something changed. It was no longer a show. I was no longer part of the Tai Chi master’s world. In fact, I don’t believe anyone was there but him and his movements. What I saw was power, passion, commitment and honor. It was everything I understood Tai Chi to be and more and I saw it all in this one man. Even writing this I am tearing up because he let me witness something so pure and special. I don’t think I can thank him enough.

Does it translate on film? Probably not. As I watch it back from the comfort of my own home, I don’t see it the same way. A moment can be lost in translation. That’s the truth and that’s the beauty of travel. You just have to be there to experience it in it’s raw form.

On this trip, I saw many things. Things that I am so absolutely grateful to have explored. But it’s the people I met that I found to be my most treasured gifts. It’s the moments. The small chats. The quiet walks. The stories. Those are my souvenirs.

Dumplings

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And then… we made dumplings. Or at least I tried to. The master dumpling maker LITERALLY laughed me off in a “you adorable little thing” kind of way. She wasn’t mocking me I swear (or maybe she was but I am going to pretend that she wasn’t)! The class was very interactive. She didn’t speak a lick of English but in the end – did that really matter? Cooking is an art. You use your hands to create. I was supposed to watch and learn, but my body could not do what my brain was telling it to do.

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I ate them like a CHAMP though – KNOW THAT! We had them fried, steamed, baked and boiled. Oh man, now I want dumplings….

Tea Ceremony

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Our tea ceremony was quite an experience as well. This was one of the moments I was waiting for from the moment I signed onto the trip. We headed to a local tea plantation near Tai Hu Home and sat through this once in a lifetime moment.

Memories
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Back at the ranch, we wined, we dined, we laughed, we bonded… we did it all. It truly was time spent making long lasting memories with friends. For more information about Tai Hu Home, click here.

To learn about Mandarin Journeys, the company that organized my visit and structured my entire China trip, click here. I know some people would consider going to Asia on their own… but I’m not one of them. I absolutely needed a guide. I felt safer having one around. I needed someone that spoke the language with me at all times. It was nice to know that I had someone familiar with the layout of the land. I also liked knowing that the day was completely taking care of and I didn’t have to do ANYTHING while on this trip considering hardly anyone spoke English. Once you got to your final destinations (Tai Hu Home, your hotels, your tourist spots, etc) you could find English speaking individuals of course. BUT NOT ON THE ROAD — remember that. Having a tour company like Mandarin Journeys will be very helpful while traveling around Asia. Believe me.

Have you ever wanted to do any of these experiences? Tai Chi with a master? Dumpling making class? Have you visited Asia before? Would love to hear your thoughts.

* Mandarin Journeys sponsored a portion of my trip. All opinions are my own.

About Vera Sweeney

Vera Sweeney – mom, blogger, and New York resident – is the founder of Lady and the Blog. Her main focus is to help busy women stay on top of the latest style, culinary, and parenting trends.

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