To state the obvious: China is different. And China becomes even more different the further you move away from cosmopolitan Shanghai or Beijing and into the heart of the country. But it definitely makes for more interesting stories than getting drunk in Beijing’s 三里屯 san1li3tun2 Sanlitun.
Whatever place your destination may be, try to get some info online about local delicacies and sights to see. Here you may benefit from reading and typing Chinese as most such information will be in Chinese. Unfortunately, rural China is not very mainstream interesting for most foreigners and my betting money is that it won’t ever be. I mean who visits rural areas anywhere unless you are doing research on local farming practices.
No matter how prepared you may think you are, you are about to get your next culture shock – also, if you thought Beijing or Shanghai weren’t really your thing, you may want to give up now and go back to wherever you have come from. If you truly feel ready, though, you can have the time of your life.
Nice home cooking
What (not) to expect
Do not expect great nightlife, good western food (unless you think KFC and McD serve good food) or even English speaking people. On the other hand, expect some great local cuisine, lots of Chinese language that has nothing to do with Mandarin and weird clubs that you may imagine nightlife in Pyongyang to look like. As mentioned previously, every corner of the country has its own local specialties, you should make sure to sample them. Also, while most pundits will speak in tongues (at least to your ear), they will try their bestest Mandarin on you if you make it clear that you have may be able to understand. Kind of cute in a way.
Nightclubs in China’s province are funny and definitely worth a visit. Chinese pop music is generally a little… how to say without insulting 1.4bn people… not so great. But watching a bunch of Chinese going crazy about it, is something else. Also, because it is all about giving face, people will drive their black limousines to the club (could be borrowed from a rich uncle in some cases) and order table service usually including a big, big fruit platter. Come to think of it, it’s not that different from back home.
That black car
Anyhow, after eating, speaking and partying like a local, you will probably still prefer living in Shanghai or Beijing. But I bet you won’t come away from this experience with a lot of sweet memories and a smile on your face when thinking about them.