What can I say about Beijing? Well, the title I put up here says a lot. Beijing is basically full of Chinese, a bit too full if you ask me, but I guess you can say that about most big cities (in China that is). Just kidding. It was actually slightly different than I had expected. Maybe it's because I didn't go the usual tourist way but relied on my friend to show me the real China, as the Chinese see it and live it. He's been living here for about 5 years now and speaks a fair amount of Chinese. Or at least enough to get by. Which is a great asset believe me. I found that a surprisingly few amount of Chinese, even in a fairly internationally orientated metropole as Beijing, speak even a few basic words of English. Which makes getting around a hassle.
In downtown Beijing most of the signs have English, or at least pinyin descriptions next to the Chinese characters, so that helps a bit. But as soon as you go a bit further out, it's Chinese symbols only, and nobody understands anything you say. Not a problem, untill something goes wrong, like for instance you get lost, or your car breaks down. I would say that travelling alone in China is very the very adventurous among us, and to be completely honest; I'm not entirely sure I belong to that crowd just yet.
Did I like China? So far I would describe it as an interesting experience at least. Of course I've only scratched at the very surface of a country so huge it boggles the mind (I'm from Holland, so i think it's big pretty quickly anyway), and I've only been there for a short period of 12 days.
But thanks to my friend I've gleaned something of what it must be like to live in a country like this, and as for me; I don't think I could live here for too long. The habits and customs are simply too outworldly for my taste. It takes years and years before you manage to speak the language properly, and reading it takes even longer. The diet there is too much for me as well. Chinese literally eat anything that moves, has moved or is going to move. Not my taste, thank you very much. And even if you learn to cope with the language and the food, you have to live with the notion that you're never really accepted in their society. You'd alway be just a second rate citizen, an invader into Chinese culture. Tolerated, but never accepted. I think the Chinese, despite all their efforts to become modern superpower, have a long way to go to really blend into the modern world.