Photographs that arrived better late than never

A charming place never lack good stories. The story I am going to tell is not a love story, it is one that lasted twenty seven years.


Twenty eight years ago, a “weird uncle” went into Yangshuo Primary School and told those kids that he wanted to take photos for them. The children were very excited as foreigners and cameras are rare sights in China, specially in a small village of Yangshuo. They tried to contain their excitement as they waited in line to take photos with a foreign girl who looked the same age as them.

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The uncle promised that he would return the next day to pass them the photos he developed. If only the uncle successfully gave them the photos, the story would not be so dramatic.


When he return the following day, the school was empty. Little did he knew that summer holiday began the next day. In the era without Internet and telephone, it was impossible to locate the students.

The uncle took twenty seven years to fulfil his promise to this group of little kids. William, the ‘weird uncle’ returned to Yangshuo in 2013 and 2014 with those precious photographs actively looking for the kids who are already grown up by now.


He went on the streets and showed the locals trying his luck if anyone could recognise the children in those old photographs. He even advertised with a local TV station to look for them.


Eventually, he found several of them on the photographs and handed them those precious photos.

Last year, he was invited to visit one of the kid’s home and enjoyed a meal with his family. As William’s Mandarin teacher, I had the privilege to be invited along and met one the student from Yangshuo Primary School from 27 years ago.

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Thanks William for offering us such a charming story and old precious photos.



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