China

China, China, China. Oh China. Such a funny place, in a bizarre way.

China holds a weird place in my heart. I have a love/hate relationship with the place. Love it that it has some magnificent scenery and natural wonders, hate that it made me sick and it was pretty dirty and gave us many a headache when we ventured out of the areas that could speak more than a word in English. But I would sway more with love than hate, and I have forgiven China for making me ill, and have decided I am VERY EXCITED to get back out there. I do have the odd chuckle to myself from time to time, thinking about the funny Chinese tourists that were abso-bloody-lutely everywhere whilst we were there (note: do not go to China during the Chinese school holidays), all of them in their tour groups with a brightly coloured hat and the men often sported a delight for the eyes (read: sarcasm); rolled up vests exposing a rather round midriff. The reason was unbeknown to us, but a quick Google search and a couple of discussions with fellow travellers about this odd trend around the country led us to believe there could be a few reasons for this public display of, nearly always, middle aged and male, big, round tummy. Reason 1, to show off wealth; showing they can afford to eat well. Though how true this is I don’t quite know, it wasn’t always the tourists, sometimes it was the general labourers whilst at work that, I am led to believe, to not get paid a great deal. To me, the more obvious reason was the sweltering heat and humidity. This completely makes sense to me, though it is a funny sight to behold for the innocent English eyes. Tehehe.

Another funny to begin with then fairly annoying trait of the local Chinese folk was their obsession with us as Westerners. Everywhere we went, including places where Westerners were a normal sight for Chinese people, saw them flooding up to us to have their picture taken with their ‘old friend from Lan-dan’. At first this was very entertaining, and I was all for joining in with the Chinese favourite of displaying a peace symbol in every photo. However, when one group came up to us, more attention was attracted over and more and more would come over, grabbing every family member they could in the process. As you can imagine, having a picture taken on every single camera within the 8 strong family, then switching the photo-taker over so they could get in the snap was rather a timely process. They were funny old people the Chinese, laughed at us all the time and stared constantly. All this though makes me feel a good sense of love for the Chinese, and every time I conjure a thought up about their love for us I can’t help but laugh a little.

Whilst the majority of the Chinese people we encountered were merely interested and humoured by us, a couple of (insert swear word here) people wanted to RIP US RIGHT OFF. And yes, you guessed it, we fell for the tea scam. We even read the warning in our hostel, and being the savvy, switched on travellers that we are, thought, that won’t happen to us, we know what to look out for. Of course, it did. We enjoyed a very nice and very expensive tea ceremony (see photo), locked in a dodgy room in a back street of Shanghai with 3 young Chinese ladies. Still, the tea was very nice so it could have been worse. We definitely learned from that one. Still, can’t help but love the place.

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