5 lessons I learned in China
The more I recollect on China the more I realise our entire experience was 'woahhhh' one minute, and 'did that just happen' the next. Having had such an incredible yet totally bazaar experience, I can't help but feel somewhat connected to this wonderful country. I'm counting the days till I return, to meet up with my new found friends, and have yet another completely unique experience of China.
During our time in China, we really did witness the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, I've narrowed down my two weeks, into 5 lessons I learned in China. Let me share them with you!
Kindness Comes Easy to Some
When I think of kindness, travel doesn't often come to mind. After exploring around Europe alone, you turn somewhat cynical. China was different. I look back over all the people I met during my two weeks of getting lost in China, and I see how welcomed we really were. When we were lost, someone would go above and beyond to help us find our way. When we were outside of a tourist area, people would ride across traffic to offer us a dink on their motorbike. When we were short of cash, someone would offer us a couple of yuan expecting nothing in return. These were small moments that made up our days in China, and truly added to our experience. And I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two about kindness.
Walking The Great Wall of China is as Incredible as it Sounds
Let me paint a picture for you... out of breath, you take a moment to look at the scenery. That's where it hits you, you're standing on the fucking Great Wall of China! Along the horizon you're surrounded by endless mountains covered in that China haze. The path you walk along is uneven, the stairs are inconsistent in size and slope. You feel you could very likely fall over each step you take, and make a complete fool of yourself not to mention hurt yourself in the process. But it doesn't matter, because the feeling of standing on the Great Wall is serene, and unfathomable. The wall is everything you had expected, and much much more.
Someone, Somewhere, Finds me Beautiful
It's difficult to explain this experience without sounding completely full of myself, but I'm going to try. Apparently, two tall fair skinned westerners travelling around China is a rare thing. So, we stood out everywhere we went. We had boys poking fun at each other when we walked by, we had street venders shouting 'hello beautiful ladies', we had strangers take photos with us or of us, we had old men follow us around with a camera, we had boys our age sincerely telling us we're 'beautiful', and woman gawk at our features. I have to point out, all while this happened on a daily basis, never did we once feel threatened, unsafe, or uncomfortable. We did however come home to our boyfriends 'pshhh-ing' at our new found Chinese admirers. Boys, am I right?
Temples Beat Churches, Hands Down!
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a religious type. Although religion intrigues me, I was brought up atheist, but now consider myself agnostic. Temples in China are ancient, some being built in 1000 AD. That thought alone is incredible. But once you add the strong smell of incense burning in pits of fire, a thick layer of smokey haze, people praying in every corner, and children respectfully being taught about the gods, you get an experience like no other. I could visit a Chinese temple every day for the rest of my life, and never get sick of the experience.
Travelling is Easier with a Buddy
Initially I booked my flights to China without a travel buddy. I couldn't find anyone interested or with time off, so I thought 'eh, I can travel alone'. And I can, I'm not doubting my solo travel abilities. But when my ex-housemate, ex-work colleague and beach buddy Maddie messaged me the exact moment I had booked, telling me she was eager to travel, I was slightly relieved. To be honest, China is incredibly difficult to get around with no knowledge of the language. I'm not saying I expect there to be English signs, but I do expect travel guides to have information for a traveller with no language skills. I'm sorry Lonely Planet, but please, for the love of all people who what to travel to China, update your China guide. In saying that, when you're travelling with a buddy, everything doesn't seem so bad.
BONUS: My Uterus Cries a Little Every Time I See a Chinese Child in a Puffer Coat
Seriously, Chinese children are absolutely adorable in the first place! Their tiny features, their somehow always perfect haircuts, their beautiful Mandarin. But put them into a puffer coat and skii pants, and you've entered a whole new ball game! I know you're already picturing it... looking like a starfish unable to move their limbs. Honestly, nothing is cuter in the human world.