travelling the seven parts of the world

Posts about China


What, When, Why and How about China


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I have included Tibet in a different post. Not necessarily for political reasons, but because it is, as far as travel goes, for all intents and purposes, a completely different country than China, just like Hong Kong.

China has definitely been topping the news for the last decade or so. But what's it really like?

The assessment is not pleasant. For the most part, it is a post-communist concrete jungle that has less charm than an abandoned Detroit car factory. The South still has some nice sights (and some green) left, but the north is a smog and factory filled monstrosity that no visitor should suffer through. The pictures I have of Datong show this at its best. We spent a total of exactly 1 month in China (from August 18th to September 18th), and the days I truly enjoyed being there were few and far between.

If anybody wants to go to China, I can suggest flying into Beijing, visiting the Great Wall (though you have to be careful which section to visit - don't go to the touristy spots), and then flying down to Guilin to go cycling/climbing in the nearby Karst mountains and and hiking through Rice Terraces, which I found the be a thoroughly enjoyable region.

We are used to thinking that Chinese food is good. It's not. What they serve westerners and in expensive restaurants is indeed good (you can see one such plate in Tai Shan pictures), but the average person in China eats food that includes a very generous serving of rice, a very small serving of meat that usually consists of skin wrapped around a bone with as minimal actual meat as possible, and some vegetables that look like boiled grass. That, or dry noodles. When consuming local foods, like rice and chicken fried in a bamboo, you will find about 10 grams of chicken for every 100 grams of rice.

Did I say post-communist? While still communist on paper, absolutely nothing on the ground shows this country to be communist. Its just as capitalist as, say, India or Brazil.