China is a truly fascinating country.
Even though this site only touches on a few locations in Northern China and
the Yangtze Delta,
even here there is just so much to see. The Great Wall, without walking
on which you are not a real man (according to Chairman Mao), temples,
palaces and of course, the people. Then there is the food, exotic,
tasty and usually very cheap, even in hotels.
For those of a squeamish disposition, it can be a
little daunting, particularly in the provinces where garbage is simply
dumped in the streets for pigs and other livestock to rummage about in.
Even in Beijing the public toilets are pretty foul; amazingly it turns out
that these are the sole facilities for many of the residents as they do not
have their own toilets, nor even a water supply and have to leave their
homes and wander down the street to the nearest public ones.
Despite that I would not miss it for the world,
particularly now there are so many excellent tourist hotels at very
reasonable prices, at least in the major cities and tourist destinations.
It can be a little confusing trying to communicate when their written
language is so complicated (for me anyway) and the phrase book phonetics
rarely seem to come out anything like the locals sound and you find yourself
arguing with the taxi driver who swears he has taken you to the place you
pronounced, even though you meant somewhere else entirely.
For a real laugh, try the Beijing opera, nicely
edited for tourists into a martial arts/acrobatics/surreal melodrama with
the most unmusical wailings I have ever heard; made all the more hysterical
by the projected sub titles creatively translated into a sort of English.
I found myself continuously torn between the absurd goings-on on stage and
the Pythonesque captions, unfortunately resulting in a rather painful neck!