why China is Special to me – REASON#2
China is huge and there are so many places to visit. It might just be the reason some think you need a great deal of time for visiting this country. Together with a visa obtaining system, it seems bothersome. It is indeed easier to travel to a smaller country with just one point of interest, but, please, don’t neglect China just because of the reason of convenience. Travelling in China is an astonishing experience. It is a country that can show you a way better variety of destinations than you can imagine. It can surprise you with what it has to offer.
If you are a nature-loving person, China has endless fields of flowers and rice terraces; mountains for hiking, camping or leisurely strolling; it has sandy & rocky beaches; forests and jungles.
If you want to be left breathless – visit Guilin with a river running among the mountains. Or would you rather prefer a cruise along the Yangtze with the water that changes colour throughout the year? If you are looking for something unique, visit the Stone Forest of Yunnan; avatar-inspired mountains in Zhangjiajie or so-called Heavenly Stair of Huashan Mountain that is scary to look at even on the pictures. Side not – Heavenly Stair is totally worth visiting if you’re planning to see the Terracotta Army in Xi’an (and not afraid of heights) as there is not much to be done in and around Xi’an apart from the obvious.
Since we started to talk about the Terracotta Warriors, China has some of the world’s most ancient constructions and wonders of the world (China is the longest civilisation in the world after all): highest ancient palace in the world in Lhasa; temple that is carved in stone (Lingyin Temple near Hangzhou) or hang above the cliff (like the one in Datong); Shaolin Monastery where you can learn (or watch others do it) Kung fu. And let’s not forget modern megapolises that are more than 3000 years old.
There is, of course, no lack in modern life in China as well, but what I especially admire is that even in the modern cities thousand-year-old historical architecture and the air of ancient civilisation is still preserved and guarded. But if you truly value an authentic experience, there are plenty of choices – little settlements that are not affected by civilisation are scattered all over China in mountain or desert regions.
For the curious ones, China has cities that are copies of those in Europe or America (like a copy of Paris in Tianducheng, not far from Shanghai). I am also fascinated by the presence of Scandinavian & Tudor architecture in big cities, like Beijing. You can find little Florence canal in Macao or London Tower Bridge in Suzhou. Tianjin, that from my perspective can be called the city of bridges , has so many of those – all are different, beautiful and yes – some of them are copies of the famous constructions in other countries, like famous Alexandre III bridge in Paris.
Since we touched upon the love of Chinese people for copies, one of my favourite entertainment parks in Beijing happened to be full of them. The World Park has all the miniatures of the world’s attractions – Grand Canyon with a ride around it, mini Taj Mahal; African villages where you can make photos with totems or little version of UK where you can climb on top of Stonehenge (something you won’t be able to do with the real Stonehenge).
If you live in China for a while now or you are not interested in seeing the touristy spots, you would still be able to find a lot of places of interest. The scenic areas have rates from A to AAAAA (so basically all the places have 1 to 5 stars according to Chinese National Tourism Board). I mostly visited 4 & 5A rated sites. Those with 4As are not world-famous but are as stunning and picturesque.
Those locations can be anything – mountains, man-made canals; islands, lakes; beautiful gardens that are under UNESCO protection; bridges and sculptures; ancient and modern architecture; highest skyscrapers and ancient dwellings, like Hutongs in Beijing (you can even stay in one of those).
If you only have time for one place, don’t worry – any place would be a perfect door into what China is. As during my time in China I lived in Beijing I, of course, recommend it as a starting point. Even after 3 years I still have places to see each time I go back (I have friends in Beijing, plus it is on my way home, so it’s a perfect stopover point as you get 48 hours entry to Beijing as long as you have a ticket to a third country). Beijing is full of architectural masterpieces, old historical buildings, parks and natural reservoirs, museums (and don’t underestimate them – Chinese art is unique & fascinating).
One of the most eccentric places in Beijing is District 798 (QiJiuBa) with sculptures, art objects and modern galleries. Only a small number of exhibits continue to be the same, so you will always be able to find something new. It is a place of inspiration or just a block of streets for a nice stroll when you don’t know what else to do.
All in all, China has endless opportunities for those who are eager to uncover the mysteries.