Our 2003 trip to China was a very rewarding and positive experience. We found the chinese people to be both friendly and helpful to foreigners. In talking to fellow travellers from Norway, Germany, Canada, and England, while in China, their experiences mirrored our own, all spoke highly of their positive experiences with the chinese people. We found the food to be excellent. We took several side trips on our own away from our group and from what would be the usual tourist sites, and were always greeted with smiling faces and courteous demeanor by those we met on the street or in shops. We never felt unsafe or threatened anywhere we went on our own even though we were often the only caucasian faces in the crowd. We would give travel to China a definite thumbs up, recommend it to others and plan to return in the future. One only has to be aware before they travel to China that they are not in the U.S. and must expect some different living conditions. While the tap water is not potable, bottled water is readily available. Nothing will be as much of a culture shock as the public squat toilets, however, some of our own porta-pots at public events are nothing to brag about. The only thing that truly bothered us was the air pollution we experienced in the cities. That being said, if you have the opportunity to visit China by all means go, it is a very worthwhile experience.
We by no means got to really know China, we visited just the cities of Beijing, Wuhan and Guangzhou, and over-nighted in Hong Kong. To say that we really got to know China would be like saying someone from China got to know the United States by visiting New York City, Washington, DC and Miami. All we learned was what we were shown and what we found on our own, just a snapshot of life in three large Chinese cities.
In 2017, we took our daughter back to China so that she could see the country where she was born. We visited the cities of Beijing, Wuhou, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Yangshuo, Yongzhou, Tuanfeng, and Wuhan. This trip allowed her to see more of the country than we had seen on our first trip to China. We were pleasantly surprised to see the degree to which air pollution in large cities had been reduced. There were many changes in Beijing resulting from the Olympic Games held there.
We saw more countryside from the bullet train and sleeper train than we saw flying between cities which gave her a better idea of how people live outside of large cities. We spent a day and night in a village for her to get an idea of rural life in China.