How to love China, by Juliene Terblanche

When you come to China, it’s not just a matter of simply arriving in a new country, it’s more like entering a whole new world; a fascinating, inspiring and mesmerizing new world. I would advise anyone and everyone to experience China for themselves and I am confident most people will love it. I say this so often that people always ask me why I love China so much?

The answer is simple. Like I’ve already said, China is so much more than just another country. It’s like nothing you’ve experienced before. In the event, however, that you get to China and you find yourself unsure about it, here are a few tips on how to love China.

1. Straight face
Learn to shop like a local and you will learn more about the people than you thought possible and also save a ton of money in the process. Shopping like a local entails going to the various markets and buying everything from fruit and vegetables to furniture. In order to get the best deal, however, you should never look excited about your purchase, at least not until you’ve more than halved the price and paid for the item and you have it in your hand and you’re walking away with it. If you show your real emotions about your prospective item you will always pay more because the seller will clearly see how badly you want it. But if you simply just go to the markets and look around you will always learn something about the culture and the people of China in the process. Without even realizing it, you will find yourself falling a little more in love with China as a whole.

2. Zero expectations
When you come to China, it is best not to have any pre-conceived notions or ideas about the country because it doesn’t matter how many books, blog posts or articles you read, nothing will prepare you for what you will experience once you arrive. It’s really best to arrive with a blank slate and form your own opinions about the people and the country. China is very different and you will be disappointed if you try and put it in a box before you’ve visited. Best to let the people and the country make their own first impression than you trying to create one out of thin air. I personally didn’t read anything before coming to China besides living cost comparisons and I am so grateful for that because I honestly didn’t know what to expect and it allowed me create my own opinions based on my own experiences and now I absolutely love the city of Beijing and China as a whole.

3. See the city not the sights
The best way to see a city for yourself is to go off the beaten path, explore by foot and definitely take the road less travelled. Beijing has incredible tourist spots and great sights, but the best way to see and experience the city is definitely not by restricting yourself to those. The side streets next to and behind the major sights are some of the most marvelous to see. I once got lost somewhere in the middle of the city and as I was walking through the streets I stumbled across a beautiful, traditional Church. Something I didn’t even know existed in the city. It was such a beautiful building, it reminded me so much of home but it being surrounded by traditional Chinese buildings made it even more special.

4. There’s always more
The number one way to fall head over heels in love with the majestic country that is China is to go travelling across its enormous spaces. China is a country of extraordinary size and the different landscapes found in this one country are impressive. When you get the chance go to different cities and towns you should try the local cuisine. You will also get to meet more of the local people and get a better window into Chinese culture. You will never be able to see all of China in one lifetime but you can have an amazing time trying. The nature this country has to offer is incredible and you can’t help but fall in love with China when you’re surrounded by mountains.

I have no doubt that anyone can fall in love with this country and this city as much as I have if you simply open your mind, shop like a local person, forget about your preconceived notions, go off the beaten path and explore the natural beauty of the country. Try it for yourself, you just might love it as well.

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