How to really see China - Avoiding Beijing and Shanghai

By Jonny Blair

China is the world's most populous country but for some reason a lot of the big name travellers seem to avoid it. And even if they do head there, they seem to go to places like Beijing and Shanghai. But that's not really China now is it? Both those cities are globalised now, and even have street signs and maps in English. It's time for the truth on how to really visit China- getoff the beaten track!!

First up, by China I mean for the most part mainland China. I don't include Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan in that. I also respect Tibetan freedom and don't include Tibet as part of China. These are what I class as 4 Chinese countries, but not part of China. So as well as avoiding Beijing and Shanghai, you need to avoid those 4 places too in order to really see China. Rather than bore with the reasons why, I'm just going to tell you that I've been to China 10 times and the worst two places I have been so far have been Shanghai and Beijing. And by a long way. Beijing and Shanghai are almost on a par with Hong Kong and Singapore as being global cities these days, therefore their Chinese-ness is being phased out (there are loads of foreigners living in those two cities!). They won't stop to notice though as the money flows in...

Unless you have visited a village with a name you can't pronounce and nobody has everheardof, eaten food you have neverseen or even have a clue what it is, find yourself miles from any city you have heardof, are the only foreigner in sight, and can only see Chinese writing, then basically you haven't yet seen China!

Get yourself off the beaten track in order to see the real China. Here are a few things you will do that proves you have really seen China:

1. No-one is sightspeaks a word of English, some of them only speak a local dialectwhich isn't even Chinese Mandarin!

2. You get on a local bus to the completely wrong place.

3. There are more chickens than there are cars in the place you are staying in.

4. There are no mobile phones or internet connections anywhere.

5. Everything on every sign post and notice is written only in Chinese.

6. You eat food without ever knowing (or wanting to know) what is in it!

So that's a decent guide folks - if you've seen and ticked those six then you really have done China. If not, please check it out, but don't forget to avoid those major cities particularly Beijing and Shanghai! Get away from those two and your travel possibilities becomes extreme, endless and unrivalled. China is a whole new world to discover!

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