5 Myths about China that are not true

1. Everyone eats dog meat

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A dog enjoying the calmness of that dirty river :’D

It’s true that there is a dog meat festival in a village in Guilin. These people are definitely the cruelest, dumbest, most ignorant and evil people in this world. Seriously, how can you possibly tortue and then eat a dog??!?!!?!??
Yes, this festival is a reality in China, but it’s the exception. I have never seen anyone eat dog meat where I lived in China. I also don’t know anyone of my friends who tried it or seen dog meat being offered anywhere.
Of course I am not trying to deny that this behavious exists in China, but it is also not true that everyone in China eats dog. It’s rather more common to see dogs being kept as pets now, and they seem to be more popular than cats. There are also more people protesting against the dog meat festival every year. So I hope that after a few years, the government will actually do something to ban it for good.

2. You will return with lung cancer

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That day the smog in Shanghai was stronger than on other days.

Another misconception that many people get after watching the news too much. Again, I am not trying to deny the fact that the air is polluted, but it is by far not as bad as you see in media. Of course, when you happen to live in Beijing, it is more serious, but if you happen to live in any other city, you won’t see the smog as often as you feared. I was living in small town close to Shanghai, and the only times it was really smoggy were the 2 or 3 days after Christmas.
December is a very bad time to visit China, because the pollution is gonna be the strongest. Since winter is really hard in the north, heating will go up during the cold months. The eastern and southern parts of China don’t have central heating since there is basically only one month of proper cold weather. Still, the smog from Beijing wanders east to Shanghai and the cities around it. I did wake up to a smoggy morning and I just cried in my bed. I didn’t know what to do other than wear a face mask.
Still, this only lasted a few days. The other days were maybe only a little bit more polluted than the weather here in Germany. No city nowadays is 100% clean. I guess you’d have to live up on a mountain or by the beach to have clear and clean air.

3. Street food is not safe

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Some fatty but yummy street food in Xi’An

Totally wrong! Street food is in most cases even safer and cleaner than restaurant food. You can actually see all the ingredients and how they cook it, so they can’t trick you. Also, most locals get streetfood on an almost daily basis, so don’t worry. It seriously is restaurant food that you should be worried about. Behind closed doors, those cooks use MSG and used oil and what else we can only guess about.
Street food is the safest option in Asia in my opinion.

4. Everyone is rude

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Some frown, some laugh.

I hear a lot of tourists and travellers complain about how rude chinese people are. I can see how that happens though. I also had my share of chinese rudeness, but it was mostly some mean taxi drivers refusing to take us because we were not chinese, or couldn’t speak the language, or didn’t have the adress in chinese characters. Other than those evil taxi drivers, I mostly met the nicest people on earth. When I was lost, there were people who would get out of their ways to help me. Once, a girl even took us all the way to our hostel although it was raining outside. Not only young people, but also older people are so nice when they see you are lost. They are actually the ones who will understand your broken mandarin the best :’D
Also, when you plan to go to China, you should get ready to learn at least some basic sentences in mandarin. People will appreciate it and they will be more eager to help you out. Actually, this is something you should do for every country you visit. In the end, you are the visitor.

5. It’s a communist country

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Mao is watching you

Of course, the party that rules the country of China is a communist party. Still, chinese people must be the most capitalist nation I have seen. They are addicted to shopping and real estates as well as tourism. China is a rising star, and without a capitalist concept, it would have never become the most powerful developping country.
I would describe China as a perfect mixture between communism and capitalism. I am sure, that the political situation in China will eventually get better and better after the following years to come. I kind of feel like China might be the next super nation since the US is doomed with Donald Trump :’D
Anyway, what I wanna say is that the political situation in China is actually not as bad as others imagine it to be.

So these were the most crucial myths people know about China before actually visiting. If you visit a country with specific misconpetions already floating around in your head beforehand, then it is quite certain that these things will actually happen.

So please, wherever you go, let go of your prejudice and enjoy the place in its purity!

Merveille.

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From Xi’An to Shanghai to Hong Kong

I woke up super early on my last day in Xi’An which was a Friday, and I had to be super fit, because it should be a day where I would be in 5 different cities on ONE DAY!!! How is that possible, you might ask. Read on to find out.

It takes around half an hour to 45 minutes to the airport, and during the ride, my taxi driver kept on talking to me. He was the same age as me as I found out, but he could only speak chinese. I understood most of it, until he tried asking me if I had a son. That was weird :’D At first I wasn’t sure if I understood him correctly, but it turned out that I did. Next thing, he wanted to talk about money and how much money german people were earning. It was an interesting cab ride, but I was glad when I reached the airport. I really liked the Xi’An airport. It’s not that big, but everything is easy to find and it has all the important shops you need before a flight.

I arrived in Shanghai at around noon, and then had quite some time until my train ride back to Yuyao, where my boss picked me up. 

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This was the cutest kid on the train from Shanghai to Yuyao. He kept on distracting me with his toys and his cuteness :’D His sister joined him later on as well. 

Here is why he picked me up. Shortly before my trip, I was told that I still had to go to Hong Kong for one last time because my visa had to be renewed for only a few days. So I had to look for a hostel last minute and buy a bus ticket to Ningbo Airport. If they had told me earlier, I could have just made them book a flight from Xi’An to Hong Kong, or at least, from Shanghai to Hong Kong. But I had already bought my train ticket ages ago.

Well, it was still manageable. I put all the important stuff in my backpack and left my suitcase with my boss. In the late afternoon, I made it to the bus and in the early evening, I was already at Ningbo airport for the 4th time now. So the next post will be another Hong-Kong-in-less-than-24-hours post.

I spent another night at that amazing hostel from last time which was also very central. This time, I met a Korean girl from London who was a fashion buyer but wanted to start a career as a fashion designer in Asia, so she started to check out the market in Hong Kong. She admitted that it was a tough job but it was her dream.

This is one of the most amazing things about Hong Kong. You can meet all different types of people from all around the world here. I have already met a Canadian who was a malay, indian, and chinese mix, I met two german girls, I met a Thai girl who I am still in contact with today, and this time I met this Korean girl from London.

After talking to her, I went to bed and fell asleep with the thoughts for the next day’s plans in my mind.

For the next post, you can look forward to more Hong Kong related stuff, but it’s also gonna be the last post about that gorgeous city.

So for me, I was in 5 cities on that day: Xi’An, Shanghai, Yuyao, Ningbo, and Hong Kong. That was a record for me.
What about you guys? What was the highest amount of citites you have travelled through/visited on one day?

Let me know and stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Merveille

From Beijing to Xi’an: First evening in Xi’An

As you might have followed my previous blogposts about my trip to Beijing and my 3 days there, you know that the city was a very exhausting one. There is no denying it, that it is beautiful, has a lot of culture and history and I saw so many different things I couldn’t have seen anywhere else, I can be sure that I would never want to live in this city, even if the smog disappeared one day. This also doesn’t mean that I dislike big cities, quite the contrary actually, I really love big cities. I am in love with Shanghai for example, and I could seriously imagine living there, but Beijing was something different. It’s nice for a trip, but that’s all.

If you have missed the posts, you can read about them here:

Arrival | Day One: Great Wall |Day Two: Forbidden City

When I woke up on my fourth day in Beijing, I took my bags, checked out and headed to the train station to catch my early train to Xi’An. The train station was smaller than expected and super busy. There were almost more foreigners than chinese people. I also saw like three travel groups full with german people.

Taking trains in China is so convenient and the prices are pretty good. Way cheaper than the trains here in Germany. That’s one of the things that I miss the most about China.

Anyway, I arrived in Xi’An in the late afternoon. By the time my taxi driver took me to my hostel it was almost early evening. While I was on the train and on the taxi, I was texting my friend Qiqi, who lives in Xi’An. I met her on my travels to Suzhou in September as I posted on this blogpost, and I promised her to visit her in Xi’An before I left China.

She told me that her friend would pick me up and show me around town until she made it out of work.

By the time I got my things inside my dorm room which was huge by the way and very clean and almost empty (only 2 other people with me there), Qiqi’s friend texted me that he arrived and waited in the lobby for me. We planned to go visit the Drum Tower and Bell Tower and then go to the Muslim Street Food Square. I was starving, so this was a great idea.

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This guy was legit fire spitting in front of the Bell Tower
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Drum Tower

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It was really nice of him to show me around. His english was also quite good, so he could do a little bit of translation between Qiqi and me. Qiqi’s english was around the same level as my chinese. We somehow managed to communicate, even if it was just through smiles, gestures and hugs. But it was nice to somehow be able to communicate with her through her friend.

The Muslim Square actually blew my mind. It was my favourite part about Xi’An, and I would love to return just for the food sold there. They have everything from Kebap, Nut Candies, Muslim noodles, soups, pita-like breads, Fruits, Juices, Milk drinks, Fried stuff, just EVERYTHING! I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to look at and what to eat.

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This is how the nut candy is made. The white stuff is a sugar mixture they use for any kind of candy. It was very relaxing to watch this. 

We sat down at a traditional restaurant that sold soups and meat. My friend told me that this place was a very old family restaurant, and all the locals knew about it. I ordered a normal noodle soup, my friend ordered the spicy version and he also ordered a dish made of intestines. He didn’t know that I don’t like intestines, but I tried to see how it tasted. I definitely didn’t like it :D But he appreciated that I tried.

The food was delicious. We continued to roam around the streets a little bit more. I found a stand with the pita-style bread and bought one. It looked yummy, but it tasted a little bit dry.

Then I saw something fried. It was dough filled with vegetables and it looked sooooo yummy! We ordered some, shared it, but could only eat a little bit since it was really oily.

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The Street Food market has a lot to offer. I was so full after only 3 dishes, that I could neither eat nor drink anything. I regret not having tried the pomegranate juice and the milk drinks that are really famous here.

I still wanted to buy some boxes of the nut candy though. I love them and I wanted to bring them to Germany so I bought two boxes, one with sesame and one natural.

After that, we finally went to meet Qiqi. She came with our friend’s car which was a Jeep. We then drove to the Wild Goose Pagoda, another famous sight in Xi’An.

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The Wild Goose Pagoda does have its charm when it’s dark

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Bascially, on that first evening, I saw all the famous sights you can see inside of the city of Xi’An.

We took a lot of pictures there, walked around the square, and even found a park which had funny sculptures to pose with.

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One of the few nice pictures of me that day. I looked just so tired and exhausted, that I didn’t want to upload the pictures showing me in the park. 

It’s one of the best things you can do during your travels: Hanging out with locals who can show you around.

Unfortunately, it was getting quite late already, and I was feeling really sleepy. I had an early start and I had to wake up early the next morning as well, to go see the Terracotta Warriors.

Have you guys ever been to Xi’An? And let me know about your favourite street food you ever had.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille

Beijing Part 1: Getting lost and overwhelmed

As promised, I am writing about my final trip I did around China in March, before I headed back home last year April. I still had Beijing and Xi’An on my list to tick off, so I decided to do the typical trip to those two cities. I heard many tourists and travellers take that route between the two cities via train, and I decided to do that as well.

That was not all, though. Last minute, before I left for Beijing, my boss told me that I had to go to Hong Kong one last time, because I had to extend my visa once more, for only a few days. That did piss me off, because I have already booked all the planes and trains already, and I could have taken the plane from Shanghai airport. This way, after arriving in Shanghai from Xi’An, I’d have to take the train to Yuyao, my boss would pick me up, take my suitcase, and take me to the hotel for me to catch the bus to Ningbo airport. Such a hustle can only happen in China :’D

During that one week, I took 4 trains, 4 planes, and 2 busses in total :’D If it wasn’t enough, we even planned one last Shanghai trip after I came back from Hong Kong :’D That was insane! Never travelled to so many cities in such little time :’D Almost felt like funforlouis :’DD

Anyway, my flight to Beijing was early in the morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. I took one of the earliest trains to Shanghai, and upon arriving at the check-in, I was happy to see a great seat which turned out to be an emergency exit seat. The views from the plane were great. The sun was blasting and the sky was clear blue. A pity I didn’t use my camera to take a photo.

I flew with China Eastern Airlines, and I really liked it. Everything was on time, the stewardesses were friendly and the flight was smooth.

I think everything was just too good.

After landing, I took the metro to find my hostel. I had the directions and I also had the address in chinese. I was doing fine, but then, I completely lost my way. It was ridiculous. I was already on the way for almost 3 HOURS!!! Walking around in circles, asking for the way, trying to stop taxis to take me there. Nothin worked.

Because I was so stressed, I didn’t take so many pictures. I was despairing. Finally, a taxi stopped and took me to my hostel. But he was driving in the opposite direction that I came from. I was starting to get really confused. Then, he just let me out in front of a construction and told me I had to walkd behind it to get to the entrance of the hostel since cars couldn’t drive there. It was ridiculous. Ive had enough. I walked and walked through bumpy streets with my huge suitcase and finally, FINALLY found the entrance. It was very hidden, the taxi driver was right.

I entered, relieved and they were looking for my room on the computer. And the bad luck didn’t stop. They said there was no room unter my name. I was panicking. I showed them the e-mail and the girl understood. I was at the wrong hostel. It had basically the same name.

Happy Dragon is a hostel name that is used for three different hostels in three totally different locations in Beijing. They called the hostel and asked if there was a room booked and they confirmed. The receptionst was so kind to organize a driver for me to take me there. And again, they took me back to where I came from.

As it had turned out, I had the directions to the right hostel, but wrote down the wrong chinese address. So guys, please, if you decide to book a room at Happy Dragon, double check which one it is you are staying at and make sure you have both the right directions and the right address.

I paid for the drive at the reception and was told that I got a room upgrade. I actually booked a dorm, but I got a private room. And I didnt have to pay anything extra. I was so happy, and even happier when I saw how clean and beautiful it was. The bed was soft as well. I was so tired and exhausted that I could just lie down and sleep. Even my hunger couldn’t keep me from sleeping for around 2 hours.

When I woke up, I was still tired, but I had to get something to eat and I wanted to explore the city a little bit. It was slowly getting dark, so I got out of bed, got dressed and left. First, I also signed up for the Great Wall trip the next day.

I walked to the metro, and since it was already around 7pm, the streets were full with people. The metro as well. I thought Shanghai metro was full, but the one in Beijing was even worse. I couldn’t believe when I saw how many people were still getting in.

I somehow got off at my station which was the entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Of course, I wasn’t planning to get inside, since it was already closed, but I just wanted to explore the area. I guess I would have done a better choice if I went to get some street food somewhere.

After walking around the area, I quickly got bored and felt my hunger. I took the metro again, this time to find a restaurant somewhere. I didn’t have to walk too far from the metro station. It was a modern american-korean-mexican fusion restaurant in a Hutong. The area was very quiet and old but it looked very authentic.

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Nachos and a salad, Although I was pretty hungry, I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy at that hour.

When I was soon finished with dinner, the only thing I wanted to do was go sleeping in my warm, comfy bed. I took a taxi and enjoyed the late night views I got from Beijing. A beautiful, big city with a huge history, but very overwhelming for me. I saw the beauty of Beijing, but it was still very confusing to me.

What about you guys? What were your first expressions of Beijing?