It's funny how much our perspectives about things changes by the location in which we find ourselves when speaking.
A couple of years ago, some friends were spending Chinese New Year with us at my godparents' home. One of the friends was from the UK, and another from Japan. They were asking my about my hometown near Houston, and whether it is far from Austin, Texas. My reply was, "No, it's very near. It's only about a 4-5 hour drive." We got a bit of a laugh out of that after I realized what I had said. In Singapore, there are many times I'd prefer not to go downtown because of the "long drive" involved. That "long drive" takes about a half hour. But, it is true that I consider the 4-5 hour drive from my hometown to Austin to be "very near."
When I was in Hunan, China, we stopped in a city called Zhangjiajie before making our way to the national park of the same name for a climb in the mountains there. We were chatting with our driver who shuttled us from the airport to our hotel, and I asked if Zhanghjiajie is a big city. He said, "No, it's a very small town." And when I asked him about the population, he said, "Oh, there are just over a million or so here." I thought to myself, "Oh, that is small."
I am at home visiting my family now, and I feel that my hometown is growing too fast, becoming too "cityfied." The population is around 60,000. Even when put together with the several small towns that sort of run together in this area, we're still probably talking less than a quarter of a million.
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