I went to China with very low expectations. After living in Taiwan for a year, I came away as a HUGE fan of Taiwan, but skeptical of the mainland.
China just didn’t seem as “with it” as the rest of the world (I mean, duh, communism). I expected the entire country to be covered in pollution and trash, the people to be standoffish, the government to be overbearing, and the food to be N A S T Y (I never warmed up to Taiwanese food, so I expected Chinese food to be worse). In general, I just wasn’t *psyched* about this trip.
However, it turns out that China doesn’t suck and is actually a pretty good time. Here’s why:
It’s not super dirty.
After hearing again and again how polluted China is, especially Beijing, I expected every street corner and mountain hike to be obscured by pollution. The reality was actually not bad. While there was some pollution hovering on some street corners, it was barely noticeable. The skies in Beijing were clear blue, visibility on the Great Wall stretched for miles, and things did not suck.
Chinese food is not Taiwanese food.
While the food in China is basically the same as Taiwan — I mean, it’s all just rice and noodles — it somehow tastes less disappointing. It might be the fact that Taiwan likes to throw random things like pork blood and stinky tofu in with their rice and noodles whereas China doesn’t, or maybe China uses better seasonings. I don’t know. I just know Chinese food is better than the Taiwanese stuff.
The sights are amazing.
I knew before coming that I wanted to see the karst hills in Guilin and the Great Wall in Beijing, but I didn’t expect anything else to be very cool. Turns out, there are tons of cool things in China.
There are awesome mountain hikes, clean rivers, and old forts lying around all over the place. China is a very old, very big country filled with amazing things.
Chinese people are cool.
I thought that Chinese people would be kinda jerks, but it turns out they’re pretty nice. My travel bud and I were invited into people’s homes for lunch not once but TWICE in the same weekend, a lady invited us over to pet her puppies, hotel managers and Airbnb hosts went out of the way to help us, and Chinese people loved taking pictures with me. It was a good time.
But some things are still a bummer.
China is still a communist country though, and that is crazy.
The internet is heavily censored. Google and Facebook are blocked, which makes navigating or calling people or doing anything online very inconvenient. Any apps linked to Facebook or Google (like Instagram or LDS Tools) also won’t work properly in China. The internet censorship also slows down connection speeds in general, making Chinese internet shoddy.
The are other, more subtle hints of the communist state. Although it slips notice at first, there are very few billboards or large advertisements in cities, bulletin boards only carry government-approved flyers, and policemen, soldiers, and security cameras are everywhere. The government touches every part of public life and controls everything the public sees. It’s an eerie feeling.
China is hecka dope. While there are some drawbacks to visiting (like terrible internet coverage), it is nowhere near as dirty you’d imagine, so that’s fun. Peace. ✌