I have just returned from a two-week backpacking trip travelling around China and it is currently 3 in the morning and I am wide awake, so thought this would be a perfect time to reflect on my trip around China and if, in my opinion, China was worth visiting?
Here are the first 20 things that came into my head when reflecting on my trip to China:
There are a lot of people, everywhere!
They have some amazing cuisine but some downright weird food (marinated duck tongue - no thank you).
The Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army are absolutely incredible and are a must-see.
China is generally quite a hard place to travel around, mostly due to the language barrier.
China is really protective over toilet roll and even napkins on the table (take your own).
'Soft' Sleeper trains do not have soft beds, get ready to feel achy in the morning.
Chinese people do not like to queue, as a Brit this was very hard to deal with.
There is a lot of high-rise buildings.
China has some really good craft beer/breweries.
Be prepared to not have very good internet during your stay, even though they are extremely innovative and love IT and gadgets.
There are a lot of cameras and CCTV and I mean a lot!! Once you get used to it, it actually makes you feel safe to walk around as everyone is being watched at all times.
Chinese people are still shocked to see western people, which I was not expecting at all.
There is a lot of smog and pollution and my lungs are still trying to clear themselves now.
Chinese people love drinking hot water and tea and you will find most people carry around a bottle with loose tea in the bottom which they top up throughout the day.
It was not as cheap as I was expecting.
The underground is generally clean, quick and cheap.
Chinese people generally clear their nose and throat by hacking and this is something that I could not get used to.
The museums and historical sites do not generally translate everything into English, so it is harder to learn fully about the subject.
The bullet trains really are very fast and are a quick way to see the country.
Beijing has the best pecking duck I have ever tasted in my life.
So was China worth visiting? It was quite interesting to read the list after I had finished it, I didn't overthink it and just wrote what came into my head. The list actually seems quite negative but I don't want my comments to be taken as a criticism to China. I feel lucky that I was able to visit China and experience their culture first-hand, which I know is a privilege. I have wanted to visit China for a while, with the main aim of seeing the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army and they did not disappoint.
However, China was not an easy place to travel around and the language barrier and the overcrowding can be challenging. I found the pollution and peoples mannerisms quite hard to deal with, but there were so many things I loved about our trip. China is full of historic sites and has some delicious food. The culture is so interesting to learn about and it tests your ability to throw yourself into the deep end and travel around a vast interesting country. I thoroughly enjoyed my backpacking trip to China and would like to go back to see more of the countryside and smaller villages in the future.
I would definitely recommend visiting China, but if you are a little nervous about the logistics of getting around the country, then an organised tour might be the best option.
Have you visited China? I would love to know you if you can relate to my impressions of China and if you have any other observations which you made? I will be preparing a series about backpacking around China in the future, but if you have any burning questions then please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will see if I can help.
One thing to note is that we did a DIY China trip and booked everything ourselves, rather than booking an organised tour (as this is the way we prefer to travel). I think that our experience would have been very different if we had used a travel company but I personally wouldn't change our experience as we enjoyed the challenge.