China is exhausting - nobody understands a word in English and if we say something in Chinese, it certainly means something else! Even the word "thank you" really means "thank you" or "West", depending on how we pronounce it.
China, the land of contradictions;
- megacities - huge land areas with small villages - terraced areas as far as one can see.
- Huge skyscrapers - small brick or clay houses without water tubs
- Poverty - wealth
- South China - North China: different ethnic groups, languages, religions, cultures, historical development, climate
- huge, modern, new motorways - main roads very good to totally bad - side roads mostly unpaved, with the result that either everything is dusty or during/after rain everything is marshy and dirty
- intercity buses partly in moderately good condition - ultra-modern high-speed trains.
- Very advanced payment with apps
- Mobile phones are in; for translation, photography.
We are a popular photo subject - we almost feel like Hollywood stars. The Chinese have no fear to get in touch with us: they pull out their mobile phone, stand in front of us, take their picture and smile friendly. We smile back and do the same!
The famous sights are impressive, such as the Terracotta Army, the Meiji Shan Caves, various temples that have been built in the middle of nowhere. It is interesting to experience how quietly the sightseeing of these sights takes place. Despite the large number of visitors, there is no hectic activity; there is always a gap or a place between the visitors with good visibility.
People in China are building everything everywhere; skyscrapers, whole cities or family homes. Over and over we are surprised about the urban development in the middle of nowhere. We sometimes pass places that look like ghost towns: there are so many high-rise buildings, and all of them are uninhabited. According to some information we got 60 million apartments are currently vacant in China!!! If you buy an apartment, you own it for 70 years according to the law, then it belongs to the state again. The travel guide could not tell us exactly how this will work and how it will be implemented after 70 years.
Everywhere in the residential areas it looks as if there is just a bulky waste collection. Everything that could still be used is laying around the house; old tires, some metal parts, lots of pet bottles, wood to heat or cook, some old chairs or torn sofas that are still in use, parabolic mirrors that are used to boil hot water. Most of it is covered with a layer of dust – it is not surprising with these dusty roads.
For the number of inhabitants, the country has comparatively little traffic, at least in the northern part of China. In Xi'An you mainly can find will see big cars, three-wheeled vehicles, electric scooters and some bicycles. The further west we go, the more scooters are on the roads.
Cycle paths are available almost everywhere! We really appreciate it!
Cars and trucks are very considerate towards cyclists, great for us!
There is only one traffic rule we have to get used to ; the priority from the right is ALWAYS valid.
The roadsides are maintained every-where. Whole groups of cleaners (men and women) are on their way with their brooms and wipe the whole day or clear away the waste, others take care of the planting along the streets. Everything is still done by manpower.
Where are all the Chinese? When we're not in a city of a million people, we sometimes wonder where all those people are. We just don't see them. The fields are maintained, but only now and then we see some field workers. But when we're looking for camping opportunities, someone shows up out of nowhere. This is a mystery to us!
The food is very good and tasty. Our vegetable consumption in China has doubled. Vegetables for breakfast and dinner! But I assume that Markus will not become a vegetarian yet. Noodle dishes are great. In the north of China, most people eat noodles, in the south rice.
There are many dining possibilities, but you have to know where to find the restaurants, which is not always easy.
The Chambre Séparée in the restaurant is rather common! As if we didn't have enough tête-à-tête already!
Meanwhile we are adept; cutting fish or eating a fried egg with chopsticks is no problem.
As far as hotels are concerned, we are well served so far. New ones are constantly being built. In small towns, however, we are happy to find a bed at all. We have only once experienced that we were rejected because we are foreigners. By the way, if you search for accommodation on maps.me, you will find the terms Hotels (tourism) or lovehotel (leisure)!
Do we like China? We don't know yet! It's exciting, interesting, worth an experience. We're not enthusiastic yet. We are nevertheless looking forward for all that we are going to experience in the near future.