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Published: April 30th 2011
For the first time while I was in China the rain and humidity has caught up to me in Hong Kong. I’m kinda surprised but Hong Kong is probably my least favorite place so far. To be fair, Hong Kong seems like a city you have to spend some time in to enjoy everything it has to offer while I am just here for a day and a half. It is just so crowded and every 20 feet you have a bad smell coming from some store nearby. I think i was just enjoying the more laid back cities in China and suddenly i am thrown back to the western world. One good thing is the electronics here are pretty cheap and everyone is buying up everything like new netbooks, ipads, cameras and more. I bought an external hard drive to back up all my photos and to get some photos from other people on the trip, which ended last night. Now i have to find my hostel for tonight before flying to Bangkok, Thailand in the morning, then flying right to Phuket and island hop for the next week before starting another trip which will take me through northern thailand, laos, vietnam, and cambodia. Many people on my china trip have been to these countries and loved them all. Also most have been to India and all i hear are the horror stories of things that happen to them but somehow they all love it, i’m now scared to go there.
I am shocked to say this, but China has been one of my favorite places I have ever been. My image of China before this trip was completely wrong and I would stress to anyone reading this to visit China soon, before the big tourist boom which will probably come within 10 years. Beijing was very intimating when I landed because English wasn’t spoken much there, but after a short adjustment period, you will get around that.
The Chinese people in general seem to be more curious about westerners then anything. I can’t count the number of times our guide was trying to give instructions to the group when a chinese person just trying to listen in made there way to the center of the circle next to the guide. Many of the young people here have been learning English so soon that will not be the biggest issue. Generally, i feel like everything in china is about opposites as you will see in some of my examples. Old and young, past and future, rude but nice, etc. Look at Beijing, a city with so a great deal of history (i.e., the forbidden city) yet becoming so modern (olympic park). Cities like Xi’an, the ancient capital, and cities like Shanghai, and their modern buildings.
My first week here, I could not get over how rude i thought everyone was. Always pushing to get in front of you and then stopping suddenly. Awake between 4-5 in the morning and ALWAYS shouting (that never changed). Even on sleeper trains, they can care less about anyone else sleeping. On the other hand, I only met one Chinese person i didnt care for, he was being aggressive trying to get some of the western girls i was with to drink. Everyone else were overly friendly, always buying me drinks, presents, inviting me out to everything. It reached a point i actually felt bad cause i know if they came to america, most people wouldnt be near this kind.
While I have now seen most of the major sites of China, I would like to come back and spend more time a little more off the beaten path. Maybe if i use my bonus miles to see Japan instead of South Africa I would come back. But at the rate China is growing, I expect that if I come back 10 years from now that curious feeling of seeing a westerner the Chinese feel will have changed.
Before I came here, other travelers i know kept telling me how hard everything is in China since they don’t speak English, have many different customs and norms, and unique foods. For anyone thinking of traveling here, I am pretty OCD about many things, mostly food, and I only speak English and a few words in spanish, and it seems to me everything i was warned about was wrong. Maybe the olympics helped change china to be more friendly for international tourist. There is plenty of good food and always a McDonalds nearby. It might be harder if you are a vegetarian though cause most of the food here revolves around some sort of meat or meat sauce. The cities are actually fairly clean looking, although there is some pollution and people constantly spitting or kids peeing in the streets. I never got used to the constant cutting in lines and pushing to go nowhere though, I still don’t understand why and how this doesn’t cause street fights. Imagine being in line for Chick-fil-a and a group of people just decide to jump right in front, then another group, and so on. You basically have to be pressed up against the person in front of you to stop them. One funny idea i wish i knew to do would be to take a picture with your own camera every time a chinese person or group asks to take a photo with you. I must have been in at least 100+ pictures that i know about, many more when they just sneak up on the side of you, snap it, and move on (i just hope i wasnt picking my nose or something). While many of the older people don’t speak any English, the younger people do and have always been willing to help with anything. If you were traveling without a guide, it would be hard to get from city to city since most train stations still only had Chinese writing, and were confusing even for our guide who has done this trip many times.
Well I am going to make a spreadsheet of all the email address’ of my new chinese friends, girlfriends, and I think at one point I might have gotten married. I'm in Hong Kong's airport after a fun subway journey which took me around all of Hong Kong on 4 different lines (i think i made a mistake on the first one, lol). In am now headed off to Thailand to see more of Asia, I hope they treat me as well as China. Peace
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