I was a guest blogger on a travel website, but you had to scroll all the way down to view my article, so I’m just going to print the article here. (I’m still learning about how to size the pictures, as you can tell!)Here’s the link to the article, Cheap Airfare Enjoy!
China – a mammoth of a country, an enigma to Western eyes with its chaotic energy, ancient
history, and intricate language. China is one of the few countries where a Westerner can still
experience the same awe and wonder as at Magellan’s first sight.
Where do you start if you’re looking to explore this behemoth of a nation? Travel books are
stuffed full with itineraries, but how can you possibly prioritize? Here’s what when to throw out
the travel book advice
Don’t Worry About Tourist Traps
Many travelers to China are keen to see the “real China.” With such a diverse country, there really is no such thing, and it bears remembering that Chinese tourists vastly out number Westerners – any where you go is the real China. My husband and I went to the “touristy” section of the Great Wall and had a blast feeding sun bears carrots after our sufficiently grueling hike over the world wonder. Our hotel booked us tickets to a beautiful, exciting Kung Fu Show, part acrobats, part Broadway musical, and we understood the legend more deeply because of the English translation. I’ll never forget my Willy Wonka-esque experience taking the “Tourist Light Seeing Tunnel” under the Pudong River in Shanghai. Embrace your inner tourist.
Don’t Be Afraid of Scams Around Every Corner
Asia is filled with “free tour taxis” who will drag you to pearl markets and silk “museums.” Don’t let this discourage you from engaging with some of the locals. One off-season farmer took us on a bicycle tour through the karst mountains and water buffalo farms of Yangshuo. In Datong, a taxi driver took us on a tour that included side trips to old parts of the Great Wall, small farming villages, and into the cave-home of an old man who grew marijuana outside his front door. Because of the language barrier, these part-time entrepreneurs offered us access to so much more of China.
Don’t Ask Chinese People Where You Should Go
In contrast, don’t listen to locals’ advice on where to go, either for traveling or for eating. Most Chinese will answer with what they think Westerners will like. In their infinite hospitality, they will guide you to sub-par Western restaurants rather than the local dumpling shop. Go to see China, not a Westernized version, and embrace her frustrating, dirty, crazy side along with all the excitement she has to offer.