China amazed me. A land with over 5000 years of history has more to offer than you could ever comprehend, and admittedly, I have never traveled to a country that has left such an impact on me. The history, people, cuisine and language left me wanting more after my quick 2-week trip.
When I look back on my trip the people I met stick out the most. I traveled alone for the majority of my trip in China. Although I was traveling solo, most of my trip was spent meeting new people. As a westerner I stuck out. There was no hiding the fact that I was lost and unfamiliar with the ways of the land. The hospitality of the locals was extremely touching and allowed me to make friends for a lifetime. Make sure you have WeChat and are open to meeting new people during your trip. It is by far the biggest highlight!
As a big art fan I was in heaven at the art districts: 798 in Beijing and M50 in Shanghai. At first I was a little put off by the concept of a separate, “designated” art area. My thinking was that art should fill the city instead of being segmented off into a district. However, this setup is extremely tourist friendly and makes for a great community feel with many galleries split between a atelier and display room.
Some things are a must for every first-time trip to China, such as going to The Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. I highly recommend going to a more remote section of the Great Wall, such as Mutianyu. They even have a chair lift that will take you up the wall and a toboggan ride down. It is definitely worth it to hire a tour guide because both can be very crowded and hard to get to unless you rent a car. Plus, it allows you to learn about the political history of what you are seeing without having your nose in a guide book the whole time.
Now that I’m back in Berlin I often find myself daydreaming about my trip. There is no other way to describe it than sensory-overload, as almost everything was new! I find myself waking up and wanting dim sum for breakfast opposed to a croissant. Oddly enough, when walking through the empty streets of Prenzlauer Berg, I secretly miss all of the hustle and bustle. It feels like something is missing.
My tip for all first timers is to go to China without expectations and an open mind. See and experience as much as possible and let yourself be amazed by the insanity. Now that I am back, I want to continue to learn about the culture and people.
For now Zàijiàn! 再见!