China

China is a unique and plural country at the same time, it explores itself with time and a lot of energy

 

This is a country that has fulfilled my expectations far beyond what I could have imagined.
I have to confess, before I set foot in China, I had a few preconceived ideas.
I had the opportunity to meet a lot of Chinese people on holiday, all over Asia or Europe and the experience was not always an happy one. But here we are in China! This impressive country, gigantic, are Chinese all different. The Chinese of China are surprising, endearing and caring, it is a big surprise.

香港,您好,我叫克里斯汀,我是法国人,很高兴认识您 Hi China!

Xiānggǎng, nín hǎo, wǒ jiào kè lǐsī tīng, wǒ shì fàguó rén, hěn gāoxìng rènshì nín!

The etiquette of good manners is also made in China

 
Chinese culture is very specific. In China, they talk loud, rush, pass in front of everyone. So burp, make noise while eating and don’t feel any embarrassment to embalm the bus with the smell of feet while taking off your shoes or to shamelessly stand in front of the text you are reading on the sign… It will be worth showing magnanimity or use your elbows. The choice is yours, but whatever happens, you’ll have to adapt.
 

A communicative energy and smile: China is a joyful country

 
It is normal for a Chinese person to dance or do his daily gymnastics outside with his friends. At nightfall, parks, streets, banks, are invaded by folk groups in traditional dress. Everybody gets into it, young and old and even the honourable elders! Here, they sing at the crossroads, chat with everyone even if they don’t know each other.
 

The Chinese are very attentive with their visitors

 
They will make every effort to help the visitor. Curious as weasels, they approach, grab your GPS-phone, disappear with it for information, come back chatting like magpies and stop the bus in the middle of the road to push you inside! They will approach you to offer their help, find you a magnificent hotel at a lower cost (reserved for Chinese) and invite you to taste their specialities with disarming cordiality.
Because it is fundamental for them that your experience of China is beautiful, good, positive. It is almost a question of honour. 
 

Leave equipped: body language, drawing, translation application and GPS. In China we speak Chinese!

 
Even with a lot of heart and neurons, it is not easy to master vocabulary and pronunciation. Making yourself understood is sometimes a real challenge. But! If your Chinese don’t speak a word of English, they will go without hesitation to find someone who can help you.
This saviour will accompany you to your hostel which is 800m away and will leave you with a warm and sincere “Welcome in China!”.
And Confucius is my witness, to explore this country by yourself, you will sometimes greatly need their help.
In the big cities, street signs are translated into English. But often, even super GPS won’t be of any use to you.
 

In China, you quickly need to know who to ask for help

 
It’s not uncommon, when you arrive at the ticket office, the salesman sends you out: Méo-Méo! accompanied by a puppet gesture, which translates as “there are none“, and “next one!”. All you have to do is get back in line somewhere else or look for help. Take out the secret way to success: get a policeman or someone in uniform. Mr. or Mrs. will bend over backwards to help you buy your ticket and the effect on the ticket office seller will be immediate.
 

Learn to say yes: China makes it a point of honour to help travellers

 
The Chinese love to take care of their visitors. Accept their invitations, be open to exchanges even if they are sometimes a bit brutal.
30 minutes before the bus leaves, I realize I was at the wrong station. A woman accosts me loudly, I explain the issu. In 3 minutes the problem is solved. Pushed outside the station with my luggage, she intimates me to stay there with a disconcerting authority. Her husband appears driving her Audi as if by magic. He drives me to the right station, 5 km away and even accompanies me to the ticket office to make sure everything goes well.
 

Concrete, concrete, concrete all this city is tiring the traveller. Add a pinch of sacred mountains, it will make the journey lighter…

 
China’s cities are sprawling, concrete to the core and very oppressive. To enjoy the trip, it is good to go to discover the sacred mountains (Emeishan, Leshan, Taishan and others). May sleep in a monastery, experience the toilets without doors, breathe the fresh air and admire the landscape. China is an extraordinary but tiring country, a little rest will do you good. 
 

The Chinese in China are very different when they are traveling 

Noisy, with little respect for other cultures and the environment, Chinese visitors are not always the most pleasant. There are many reasons for this. The Chinese do group tourism and it is precisely this group effect that makes them so little open. This effect is not specific to the Chinese but to almost all nationalities, including French.

Travelling alone for a Chinese person is completely inconceivable. Only a few rebellious people start out as a couple or with friends. But the trip is almost invariably organized up to the last detail. Tight in their timing, their schedule, they are therefore not very accessible and not very curious about the locals they visit. They mostly keep to themselves and keep their distance from strangers. 

A group moves around with its language, its habits, its guide speaking Chinese and a program to the millimeter that leaves no room for meeting the locals. The language barrier does not facilitate exchanges and, finally, the Chinese are constantly on their guard when they are away from home. They have a disastrous representation of far countries. Robbery, assaults, pickpockets, scams of all kinds, or racism, they have been given all the recommendations and they follow them to the letter. So the trip is a visit to the monuments, photos and back to the bus.

There’s no point in taking offence, you have to adapt: that’s the key to a successful trip to China

 

Here there’s no moaning, no mumbling, no glances. This is China, you have to throw yourself into the fray or play by the rules

 

Forget your good education. If you want to get on this bus or buy your ticket without waiting in line for 3 hours, go for it. Here, elbows are the law!
Anyone behind the wheel of a car instantly turns into a monster. Cars push you, cut you off. In China as a pedestrian you have no rights. So you will have to get used to it and it will be useless or even dangerous to get angry with them. That’s the way it is!

You thought you knew Chinese gastronomy? You’ll have to relearn everything because it’s very different here

 

Taste the foot of chicken spiced to the extreme, the divine Peking duck lacquered, the steaming dumplings in their bamboo baskets. Pale in front of the musty sea cucumbers with their confusing smell and test compositions worthy of a witch’s cauldron.
The discovery of China passes through the palate and the tongue.
Give up searching for what’s really swimming in your soup, plate, glass or bowl and discover new flavours. Remember also that China loves cats… in stew! 

Do not try to understand this country by comparing it to Europe. The Middle Kingdom has its own rules, whether you like them or not

 

Censorship, culture and excessiveness, all right, but in China don’t talk about dictatorship

 

Freedom of expression is a very abstract concept for the Chinese. Explaining your excitement over “Charlie attacks” to them is like talking vegan to a butcher.

The internet is awfully bad in China and Baidu will give you research results… in Chinese. A lot of sites are banned, and everyone’s being watched. Google is blocked here, if you want to keep getting your emails, download a VPN before you go.

Everything is controlled in China: web, luggage, authorizations, movies (no chance to see 7 years in Tibet or Alice in Wonderland), books, opinions…
Zealous customs officers will screen your digital cameras as you enter and leave the territory. You’ve been warned.

Put your opinions on China on the back burner (or on lantern)

 

Stop constantly comparing what is not comparable and practice high diplomacy. Be politically correct, otherwise you risk being hurt and declared persona non grata for life.
Chinese people of all ages worship Mao. He’s their granddaddy! Under no circumstances should you discuss the darkest (in our opinion, Westerners) parts of Chinese history and do not criticize the Great Helmsman. You would be doing them an immense sorrow.

Don’t talk about Tibet except to say that it is beautiful

 

Never try to do or say anything against the forces of law and obei, even if your arms fall off…
Like that brutal arrest in Pingyao: a lone woman selling cotton candy on the street without permission. Embarked like a terrorist with destruction of equipment, intimidation and a flood of insults included, this altercation left me stunned.
Stand back when the police arrive in a short stride to quell a skirmish with batons. Don’t make comments that question authority in general. This is their country, not yours.

Follow the instructions, allow them do a 20th body search and keep smiling. Do not raise your voice when you are being ripped off. Play dumb and get out of here without losing your calm and your face. Don’t say anything about executions, baby girls, bear bile, systematic spitting.

China is a country of perpetual discovery

 

Take China as it is and explore, discover human, gastronomic and cultural adventures. She will give it back to you a hundredfold!

谢谢,再见,再见 – Xièxiè, zàijiàn, zàijiàn

Chine

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