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The good, the bad, the weird and the freakinshly weird: travelling in China

Out and about in China

CHINA | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [206] | Scholarship Entry

Coming to China for me was one of the most spontaneous decisions I have ever made in my life. My decision to come here literally happened within 2minutes of a phone conversation; 1 and a half of which was used to discuss details of how to apply for the scholarship. I didn't know much about China before coming here ;all I knew were the stereotypes 'Everyone looks the same there' and 'Everyone knows kung-fu' and 'Everyone lives in hu-tongs (traditional Chinese courtyard houses)'. Well you can imagine my surprise when we landed at the Beijing International airport, got into a big luxury bus and drove into the city on smooth tarmac roads which compared to Kenyan roads that are full of huge potholes and open man-holes that during rainy seasons are an embarrassing situation waiting to happen, felt like we were driving on air. Fast foward through the awkward phase when you don't know anyone and if you used to be shy and slightly awkward in your early years like me, being a stranger in a strange land and China of all places, then the awkward is multipled like a zillion times to when you have your own little crew and the fun begins. I think 'my first snow' was one of the greatest days in China, I mean yes it was freezing and we didn't really know how to layer up in winter so most of us just wore everything we had everywhere we went! It was just after class at noon and all of us 'first timers' ran out of class screaming happily as if we had just been told school ends early because of the snow. A friend of mine, Brazilian guy made the mistake of engaging in a snow-ball fight with bare hands, let's just say he may have won the fight but his fingers were definitely not in a celebratory mood after.Craziest thing for me being here is probably that for the first time in my life, I'm a foreigner and even more crazy,that I realised, thanks to all the staring that I get everyday from the locals that I'm black!Freakiest thing I saw was the butt-open pants that babies and toddlers wear here for easy pooping and peeing; and yes some of this happens on subways and potted plants on the street.Most beautiful place I have been in would be Pingyao town in Shanxi province. It's a little, walled historical town. Narrow streets with souvenir shops all round, very friendly people so simple and content, very unlike the hustling and bustling crowds in Beijing. First time I saw a real sunset since coming here and it was beautiful!It was also oddly quiet and peaceful at night.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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