What do people live for? How should people live their lives? The leisurely and frugal life philosophy of Uruguayans speaks for itself in the eyes of Yu Xi, a Chinese writer, painter, photographer and journalist, who has spent the past 23 years engaged in international cultural exchanges, while travelling, observing and writing about over 50 countries throughout Latin America, North America and Europe.
Different from the growing restlessness in China and its grass-roots values to get rich quick, Uruguayans lead a simple life, according to Yu, who lived in Uruguay and Jamaica for 20 days each to finish his new books, HAVE A DATE WITH URUGUAY and HAVE A DATE WITH JAMAICA.
"After over 30 years' development, China has made its economy the world's second largest. But it doesn't mean we are number two in each and every aspect," he said.
As more people have become rich, ordinary Chinese values have gradually converged on one point, getting rich as soon as possible, Yu continued.
"People are pressed to earn more money and many feel exhausted after work," he added. Anxious and restless people are a common sight on the streets. They are not able to relax and explore and discover cultural things.
"But actually our current economic living conditions are enough to support ourselves for a tranquil and leisurely life. The problem is we don't think that can meet our demands or help us realize our dreams. "
It's a striking contrast in Uruguay, a developing country and whose GDP per capita is much higher than China's.
Yu has taken photos of 100 pedestrians on a street of Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. "Judging from their walking pace and facial expressions, they look placid and not in haste."
Also, an earlier visit to a rancher's home at Pampas left a great impression on him.
The family is very rich, owning over 2,000 livestock, but they don't live lavishly. "Their towels look like dried fish. In China, people would have dumped them right away. "
In spite of the fact that China still has much room to improve to seek a more balanced development, Yu believes every developed country in the world, postwar Japan in particular, seems to have also undergone such an "anxious and imbalanced period".
When a nation's economic development has reached a certain phase, people there can cool themselves off and reflect on their own culture, he added.
"While for us, this moment has yet to come. I do hope people can be aware of it and make their lives more colorful, instead of being bored and operating like a machine."
When asked what he lives for and how he lives, Yu said he has made his interest in international cultural exchanges his career and has learned to control his life's pace.
Sometimes Yu feels tense when working and while fundraising for his international tours, but he is able to relax himself when travelling and enjoying the beautiful sights and people around the world.
"My next stops are Brazil, Chile and Bolivia," Yu smiled.
Yu Xi is a member of the Alumni Association of the US State Department and the Cuban Jose Marti Cultural Association. Yu has interviewed over 40 heads of state and government leaders, over 100 ambassadors to China and has published 25 full-length books on literature, painting and photography.