Everyone should visit China

Disclamer: This is obviously my own personal opinion, but I really felt strongly about China when I was there, so read at your own discretion.

I am not posting this to change the world, to make a political statement or what have you.

I am simply stating what I feel and what I observed.

I will obviously never return to China, except to go see Hong Kong or Macau, neither of which has anything to do with “China” itself.

I understand that people from there (people I know, too) say to me: That’s just the way it is in those countries, which I understand fully… but only serves to further enhance how distorted China is portrayed and talked about in the media.

It’s because people don’t really visit China (not big on tourism for foreigners without tour groups), that they have to take what the media says at face value.

Everyone should visit China for just the experience of it alone.


I loved taking pictures of the country.

I adored all the tourist-y sections with beautifully restored temples, and I found the entire country charming in its own way.

Granted, I didn’t eat anything because it was all “dressed” with heaping globs of oil and fat, but the vegetables looked fresh and delicious.

I acknowledge that the country is the most populated on Earth, and sometimes things aren’t possible, given the size and the sheer enormity of having to handle such a country efficiently.

I get it.

But this is coming from someone who has been there and for me, China is putting up a big facade that’s starting to crack.

I wasn’t shocked by the living conditions in China. I expected to see what I saw, but I was wondering if what the Western media and the Chinese government are bragging about is really true — that China has truly advanced enough to be so modern, it beats anything you’ve ever seen in the world.

The answer for me, is a big fat resounding NO.

I just find that people and bloggers… don’t talk about the real China, or maybe I just haven’t been reading them. Or maybe they’re less critical and more easy going than I am.

So here’s my  take on the country.


When you go to tourist-y areas, it is like they live to clean and maintain the place.

The building looks incredible, they’ve really spent the money to plant flowers and there is a lot of beauty and charm.

But as you head off into a little alley about 30 seconds away from the tourist-y area that is so modern, you stumble into something that’s 180 of what you’ve just seen.

Instead of being something modern, it’s the other extreme — rural.

95% of people don’t live in those fancy apartments you see on TV. They live in places like this.

Actually, this is considered wealthy to many, old China used to live in little tin houses or hovels. Much like those Brazilian favelas you see.

I found it charming (who wouldn’t?), but it is like they lived in little hovels or shacks, beside these huge multi-million dollar apartments in their backyard.

The tourist-y spots are where tourists are allowed to visit, but then they’re whisked away by the tour group to another beautifully manicured area, before they can see what the rest of the country is really like.

My observation was that most people don’t visit China unless they’re originally from it, they go with a tour group (Chinese is a hard language to decipher), or they’re there to work, but they live in little mini resort bubbles far, far away from the city itself.

No one really sees and observes China unless they want to.


In North America and even in Europe, people do litter, I acknowledge that.

We even have guys peeing in the alleyways, or on trees instead of going to the bathroom, and when you’re on the highway without a washroom in sight for another 100km, sometimes you need to drop off the side of the highway into a bush to do your business.

Totally understandable.

But in China?

People go to the washroom in the alleyways, even if there are public toilets nearby. I’m sure it’s cultural, but that’s kind of the reason why the government put toilets everywhere — so people won’t just go to the bathroom anywhere there’s a spot.

I saw multiple kids and even adults just squat down and pee or poo anywhere on the road, or parents holding their kids to pee above garbage cans.

It was like being back in the Dark Ages before anyone knew anything about hygiene and sanitation.

People pee in chamberpots in their house, but they empty them in the public washrooms nearby their neighbourhood each morning. (They don’t have washrooms or running water in their home, I presume).

Kids pee in grocery stores in vegetable bags, and then throw the pee bag (tied of course) into any receptacle they can find. Never mind there was a toilet DOWNSTAIRS, it’s much more convenient to pee in the grocery store right away rather than lose your spot in line for some eggs on sale to take your kid there.

They treat their country like a garbage can of sorts. Only inside their homes, it seems to be taboo to treat it like a dump.


On the road, in their cars or on their bikes, they are crazy.

I say this in the most negative way possible, because coming from countries where cars actually STOP for you at lights, they have no respect whatsoever.

In Western countries, the pedestrian is the ruler of the road.

In China, the rule is: Whatever is bigger and faster than you, has priority.

The King of the Road is the train. No one can beat the train.

It’s the only time I saw people in cars and on bikes stop for something.

If you are walking on a sidewalk, and a car comes up behind you, you better move the hell out of the way or they’ll run you over.

If you are about to cross the street at a light where you THINK you have the priority, you better watch your back and your sides for any motorcycles, bicycles, or cars refusing to obey the rules.

They don’t give a damn.

Yes, the light is STILL GREEN for the buses and cars.

ANYWHERE YOU GO, you have to watch yourself 360 degrees for someone about to run you over.

BF and I teamed up to watch each other’s backs. People almost ran us over with their cars and bikes on a constant basis.

Bicycles and motorbikes (I have video proof of this), will go AGAINST traffic. Yes. AGAINST.

Cars will be turning left at a light, and motorcycles won’t wait at the light for them to finish, they’ll go right into the intersection IN BETWEEN CARS, stopping/slowing down traffic and causing a lot of problems.

It’s like they think they aren’t a vehicle.

I was also told by a few Chinese folks that if I got injured, I better watch out because if they didn’t kill you the first time with their cars or bikes, they will back up and run you over until you’re really dead.


So they don’t have to be on the hook for compensation for your injury. If they kill you, they don’t have to pay.

BF and I were mentally exhausted by the time we came back home.

We were so scared of vehicles, it was pathetic.

So when I read blog posts like from Persephone Blog about having a culture shock:

I realized a fundamental change had taken place. See in France, the country where I’ve taken up residence for the past few years, the drivers have to stop. If they don’t, that’s a four-point demotion from their licences. 

Yet, my Seattle friends watched me, almost sympathetically, from the corner as I stood there, pointing to cars and wondering just why the hell these people were zooming past. Didn’t they see us waiting there? “Asshole, asshole, dickface, fuckhead,” I crowed the drivers as they didn’t even so much as glance in my direction. Where on Earth was I? Where was the order? Why did nobody care about pedestrians?

Coming home to the U.S. has an unnerving experience in almost every way. It is reverse culture shock. You know these truths to be self evident, but for some reason, they still feel foreign and strange.

I say to the above lady blogger: You think Americans are bad? Go to China for a change of pace of traffic.

I guarantee you will return to whatever country you are from, supremely happy to not have to think about being run over.


In Beijing and Shanghai (the two most visited cities of China by foreigners), there are people cleaning 24/7.

It is spotless. You could eat off the ground, although I wouldn’t recommend it because they enjoy spitting, snorting and sneezing without handkerchiefs or tissues.

But you know what?

If you go into the alleyways and other areas, it is filthy.

People from China told me that it’s just a glimpse of “real China” — that 90% of China is not spotless like that, and I believe it. It’s too big to clean like that 24/7, and if we had gone anywhere but Beijing or Shanghai, we would have seen it.


Whenever you have to buy something, you have to check every part and component to make sure it works.

Do you know how exhausting that is?

To have to think: Oh I’m buying a necklace, let’s test the clasp, let’s make sure the beads are real, let’s check the quality of the item to make sure it doesn’t break.

It sucks the life out of you if you had to live like that.

You can’t just go into a store, pick up something and buy it. You have to make them open it, test it and then repackage it. It is TIME CONSUMING!

Not only that, they don’t have quality checks in the factories, so stuff makes it out with flaws (holes in the rice pot for one), or the plug is the wrong plug for the device.

Everything. Has. To. Be. Checked.


I can see they don’t have money.

So why do they have so many huge malls with expensive brands that the majority of the population can’t afford?

I am not even talking haute couture, I am talking about mid-priced stuff!!

Something that costs $100 in our money is expensive, even to us… but for them, it’s beyond luxurious.

They’re working in the $10 – $20 budget most of the time.

The gap between the uber rich and the very poor is very wide.

They’re building ghost cities!! Cities without people. Huge apartments, everything brand new.. not a single person there.

They’re ripping off companies, but it’s beyond what you can imagine: Check out these super fake Apple stores where employees actually think they’re working for Apple.

I understand riffing off a theme or an idea, taking inspiration and making it your own (bloggers do it all the time, nothing is new on the internet)… but to blatantly copy it and then lie and say its yours?

You can say they aren’t hurting anyone, they are just making money, it isn’t a big deal, yadda yadda… but in the end:

It isn’t business, it’s thievery.

I heard a Chinese professor say on TV that China wanted to move towards innovating their own products, like the Americans.

For me, they have a long ways to go in terms of organization, efficiency and freedom of thought and speech before they reach that level without stealing.

This is not news, folks. They’ve been stealing for decades, but it only underscores the fact that they simply aren’t at the level to change into the new economy that they want.


It may very well all come crumbling down tomorrow.

All these fake cities, with fake valuations, fake brands, fake products, fake stores.. this is not a country that can last at the speed it’s growing at.

The western media loves to say things like: China is growing at a pace beyond belief, it’s a huge economy that has to be tapped into, bla bla bla

…but people are fighting over eggs there. I saw them storm the Carrefour in Beijing to buy EGGS and vegetables.

They barely have enough money (or none at all) for meat, so where are they going to find the money to buy stuff that isn’t a basic essential?

If you offer them easy credit to live this so-called luxurious modern life that China is trying to get their people to move towards, it will end up like the States but on a far larger scale where the economy plunged almost overnight.

Luckily, the Chinese people have a strong sense of saving and not spending so it may not end up like that.

They won’t buy it if they don’t have money and even if they were offered easy credit, they’re not likely to use or take it.

So yes. The stuff they sell us is cheap. It’s crap, to be sure.. but it’s cheap. So we buy it because it’s cheap.

 In short, I don’t see what the big fuss is over China. It’s not that great.

But more importantly, what happens when and if China can’t keep up with itself?

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.