This was my fourth trip to visit China bit only my first as a tourist – the others were for work.
Not surprisingly, the changes over the years are huge. And yet, certain things remain. The hospitality shown by the people remains. Although we had only just met him, Winston’s mom invited us to join them on New Year’s day to celebrate. We had plans and there were six of us …. But such generosity!
Traffic is the same and different as well. There are fewer bikes but seem to be mostly replaced by public transit. There are more private cars but the density of vehicles wasn’t greater than in our cities. And, with electric motorbikes the norm etc., it doesn’t seem like vehicular contributions to pollution are more than here. As before, the written rules of the road are really just guidelines. The unwritten rules are paramount and simple: go when it is safe to do so and only you are responsible for your safety. So, you can go on red if it’s safe and may stop on green as it is unsafe – someone else is going on red, perhaps.
Pollution is different. We were very lucky to have clear days in Beijing but our days in Xi’an were quite the other way. The days would have been sunny but all we saw was a red orb cross the sky. Environmental and human health protection needs more work and we are going to have to pay more for the things we buy from there.
The food in China continues to have this great mystery. When you don’t know the language but you know the local customs are to eat any and all parts of all living things, the ordering process in a restaurant is a big gamble. It becomes intimidating as you really don’t know what things are. Someone said there was an app with which you could take pictures of Chinese characters and get a translation. That would help keep the various delicacies off your table unless you really wanted them!
But, it was an outstanding visit. The traveling companions were great and the sights were special. The day on the Great Wall was outstanding!