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The trip transformed my perception of China, and the unfair image it sometimes has in the West. In this article, I want to share the biggest lessons I learned about China, life and travel from that experience.|
Once you’re interested in the local culture, people open up more
Originally Vat and I hadn’t planned on going to China at all. We were warned that China might not be the best place to go to meet friends because people were unfriendly to Westerners. Instead, we were told to go to Taiwan.
Some visa complications made it impossible to stay the full three months in Taiwan, so we switched to a three-month stay in China last minute.
However, from the first day I arrived in Kunming, I had my perceptions flipped. Far from being insular and hostile to foreigners, people came up to talk to me the first time I went out on the street. It happened to be all in Chinese, so I didn’t understand much, but it did cause me to rethink my assumptions.
As my Chinese improved, this continued throughout my stay. From my landlord introducing me to people who could help us learn Chinese, to getting to know the couple who ran a noodle restaurant nearby.
If you’re interested in other people, their culture and their language, they’ll be friendly to you. China isn’t an exception.