Here’s the truth about China and how you should visit the world’s most populous country. Here’s my simple tip: AVOID Shanghai and Beijing. Once you have escaped the realms of those two, then China suddenly becomes more real, more authentic and more rewarding. To be honest, visiting Shanghai and Beijing isn’t really visiting China. I’ll give you you a rundown on how to really travel in China…and remember almost everywhere in China is “off the beaten track” for the non-Chinese.
For the basis of this article I’m talking about mainland China except Tibet. To me that is the real China. So just fornow let’s leave Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan out of this. To all intensive purposes they are separate countries in their own right. Shanghai and Beijing are greatcities – don’t getme wrong but they are justnot Chinese enough to get a real flavour for this country. The reason is they have street signs and maps written in English. They have Italian restaurants. They have American restaurants. For a start if you see a McDonalds then you are not in the real China. To see whatthis ancient country is all about you need to head way off the beaten track and out into the glorious countryside.
Until you sit down in a village that nobody has ever heard of, to eat food you’ve never seen, miles from any major city and with no other foreigners or foreign writing in sight, then you haven’t really seen China!
Get yourself off the beaten track in order to see the real China. Here are a few things you will do that proves you have really seen China:
1. No-one is sightspeaks a word of English, some of them only speak a local dialectwhich isn’t even Chinese Mandarin!
2. You get on a local bus to the completely wrong place.
3. Chickens are more common than cars in the village you stay in.
4. There is absolutely no internetanywhere, nor computers, nor mobile phones!
5. Nothing on sign posts is written in any language other than Chinese.
6. You don’t have a clue what was in the food you just ate!
That’s my take on how to really see China – you don’t have to listen or take it all in and of course you might find what you need in Shanghai and Beijing. But honestly, if you really want to see China and Chinese culture which hasn’t changed in generations, then head off the scent to places like Jin Ji Cun, Shaoguan and Kaiping. You’ll be gasping for more of China once you’ve seen what it’s really like!