征文24 ▏Vicente: Maybe I was Chinese in a past life

家外之家 2021
征文24 ▏Vicente: Maybe I was Chinese in a past life

Name : Vicente Sivera Catalá


Country of Origin : Spain


Occupation : Board Game Illustrator and graphic designer


Years in China : 8



“Maybe you were a Chinese person in your past life.”

Over the 8 years that I have been living in China this is the, somewhat corny, jokingly way some of my Chinese friends replied to my enthusiastic accounts of my experiences here. And while I don’t believe in reincarnation, I do think that some of us are blessed with the chance to enjoy a second life, and sometimes if we are lucky, it might be as good a life as the one I enjoy in China.

My adventure however began much earlier…


我生活在中国的 8 年里,一些中国朋友对我的经历就是这样描述的,有点老套,打趣的措辞。虽然我不相信轮回,但我确实认为有些人有幸享受第二人生。有时候想想,如果我们足够幸运的话,就能来中国享受精彩的人生。


Vicente’s Hometown in Spain and its picturesque landscape

I come from Villajoyosa, a small place in the coast of Spain. A cozy seaside town with a long tradition of fishing and chocolate making, the town features traditional beautiful and colorful old buildings by the beach, giving the opportunity to visitors for enjoying lots of local delicacies.


My friend Xihong migrated to Spain along with her parents when she was 3 years old. Her parents did what many Chinese migrants did at the time and opened a restaurant called “Great Wall”. Back in the early 2000s China was still a mysterious place for us Spaniards, so when my friend offered me to accompany her on a trip to China, I couldn’t help but to accept the offer.
我的朋友西红3岁时就随父母移民到西班牙。她的父母和当时许多中国移民一样,开了一家名为“长城”的餐厅。21 世纪初,中国对我们西班牙人来说还是一个神秘的地方,所以当我朋友提出陪她去中国旅行时,我难以拒绝这个邀请。
And so during the summer of 2004, four Spanish friends, Xihong and I embarked in a journey that changed everything.2004 年夏天,我和西红以及四个西班牙朋友踏上了这个改变一切的旅程。I can’t overstate the huge impact that month had on me personally. I knew little about China at the time and so the whole trip was filled with surprises and exciting situations: the language, the historic sites, all the food! Xihong’s family welcomed us as if we were part of the family and took us around, being the best ambassadors someone could wish: my time with them remains a testament to the hospitality of Chinese people. So, by the time we were back home, I knew one day I would come to China again.


Here’s me rocking a long(and still dark) hair on my trip to China in 2004

Fast forward to 2012.

时间来到 2012 年。

I was living in Barcelona at the time and, I was less than satisfied with my life. So I took a backpack and came to China with no plan, and no return ticket. I had no work waiting for me, no friends, nothing, just the drive for exploring this big country.


After some time traveling around China, I enrolled in university in Guilin. There I spend two years studying the language, practicing Taichi and learning Chinese calligraphy. Then I moved to Shanghai where I started working in a manufacturing company for board games. There I came to know about how the modern part of China looks like. It was also how I started making contacts in the game industry and what eventually brought me to Xiamen.


It took one weekend.


In nearly 2018 I got a job offer from a company in Xiamen and I came for a weekend to learn more about the city. “How had I never heard of this city before?” That was the question repeating in my head as I walked through the small, charming streets of the old city, discovering one secret cafe after another. After the soulless and profit-driven society of Shanghai, Xiamen welcomed me with down to earth people who found joy in drinking tea with friends by the sea, near Baicheng beach. After the stress inducing cage of concrete and glass of the big city, the terraces of Shapowei promised of nice evenings enjoying a beer with friends. After just two days I decided Xiamen was the place I wanted to stay in.

2018 年初,我收到了厦门一家公司的 offer,周末我就来到厦门,想更深入地了解这座城市。“我以前怎么从来没有听说过这座城市?”当我走过老城区充满魅力的小街道,发现一家又一家的神秘咖啡馆时,这个问题在我脑海中反复出现。上海是座没有灵魂、追名逐利的城市,而厦门则有许多接地气的人。他们会在白城海滩附近和朋友一起喝茶,度过闲暇快乐的时光。离开由混凝土和玻璃构筑的牢笼般的、充满压力的大城市后,我更愿意来沙坡尾与朋友一起享用啤酒,度过美好的夜晚。仅仅两天,我就决定要留在厦门。

Now it’s been already 3 years in this city. It’s a good place for making friends and to tell stories. Like when me and an American friend I met in Guilin went on a 45-day trip around China. We were staying at the cheapest holes we could find, riding those 24-hour-long trains, and avoiding interaction with anyone who could speak English.

我已经在厦门待了 3 年了。在这里可以结交许多朋友,人们也更愿意讲述他们的故事。比如,我和一个美国的朋友,之前在桂林认识的,我们一起在中国玩了 45 天。我们找最便宜的地方住,乘坐长达 24 小时的火车,不与任何会说英语的人互动。

Exploring China with my friend

I still remember that old guest house in Harbin, run by an old Chinese couple. It was winter and I can’t imagine what was my face when the lady explained to me that the only available way of “showering” was boiling water in a kettle and do whatever I could in the small room with a squatting toilet. We made things inconvenient for us, sure, but in the process we accumulated enough anecdotes for a lifetime of storytelling.


So, why am I staying here?


The beauty of giant Chinese characters carved in the side of a mountain half hidden by the fog. Enjoying the simple yet mouth-watering taste of a good plate of Mapo Tofu, while the friendly restaurant owner introduces you to an old Hong Kong movie about a ghost hunter Taoist priest. Ordering virtually any product you can imagine with your phone while riding a next generation electric vehicles with automatic doors. The list of things I like about living in China would fill several pages.


Now the times of adventure feel a bit far away, but like a young love based on passion, that later transitions to a mature and stable relationship, mine with China has changed too. Things seem to have come full circle with my first published card game, Hot Pot Hustle! A project where I could take the passions and interests of my previous life and merge them with the things that are making this second life such a good one.


My first published card game, Hot Pot Hustle (火锅侠)

作者:施伟 翻译:潘泽彬

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