G oing back to Asia is always a nostalgic experience. I have fond memories of being at my Grandmother’s home when I was a kid, and most of my photos, before I was 5, showed memories of my life in China. But seems like each time I head back, something is different. Whether it’s the city, the environment, the home, or the people…

Everytime that I’m back there, I’m a little older. Which is no big deal except that I sometimes forget it means everyone else is a little older as well.

I always leave with some sadness in my heart because my mind always ends up at the thought: “Is this the last time I’ll ever see you?”

But when I am actually there, time seems to stand still. Everytime I go back I’m also surprised at how little has changed in the relationships I have with my family, considering I’ve been away for so long.

My grandmother still babies me as if I’m 9, my aunt forever remembers me at a 13 year old, newly discovering what she liked and who she wanted to me. My cousin still holding on to me at 18, younger, wilder, and more free than I am at 24.

When you’ve lived away from family since you are a child, each of them hold onto a different a peice of you. They seem to always remember the best about you. As you do them.

It’s kind of a beautiful thing. You at all ages get to live on in their hearts. And it’s comforting thought knowing that all those reciprocated good memories of them will always live on in you.

It’s hard to come to terms with the thought that one day life will change so drastically and you’ll no longer have a home there.

If you haven’t seen it already, the movie The Farewell does an excellent job at visualizing all of those emotions. From the family dinners to driving away at the end of your visit—it’s all too familiar (and almost a little too sad).

I brought a film camera with me to Asia and was able to capture some corners of where I’m from. There’s something about taking a photo on a roll of film and printing it that really makes it feel like I captured the moment. 

Like that moment now lives forever in my 4×6 print.

With camera phones being more common than actual camera use, I no longer place as much value in the photos that I snap on my phone.

But taking film photos still is something I enjoy so much, and will probably continue to for a long time.

Related: Bali on Film

35 mm film from Chong Qing, China35 mm film from Chong Qing, China35 mm film from Shen Zhen, China35 mm film from Shen Zhen, China35 mm film from Shen Zhen, China35 mm film from Shen Zhen, ChinaWhere I lived in Shen Zhen, ChinaCorners of my old apartment in Shen Zhen, Chinaview from my old apartment in Shen Zhen, ChinaFilm photo of two cats cuddlingLush greenery in Shen Zhen, ChinaWhere I lived in Shen Zhen, China

Angel Zheng