Life in China

November 25, 2012

Man walking in China near Chinese flag

What is life like in China? Like most places, that is a question with as many answers as there are people. On our trip to China, we are getting a wonderful insider look at life in China and the Beijing lifestyle, thanks to local friends, immersing in Mandarin at a local school, and living with a local family.

There are so many different aspects and styles of life in China, I am endlessly curious now and want to know more. I've been reading about China quite thoroughly ever since I decided to raise my child as a trilingual from birth with Mandarin being one of her languages, but now I want to read even more.

Much of China in the cities is ultra modern, luxurious and exciting. We're exploring Shanghai and the nearby ancient water villages now and of course Forbidden City, Tiananmin Square, the Great Wall, hutong life and Temple of Heaven are must-sees in Beijing, next week we will explore Xian. We will see and experience a ton this month for a first trip to China, but still so much more to explore in this huge country.

Every day life is very different than America or Europe on the ground level. The bikes, the heavy traffic, the street food, the super crowded subway and many other things leaves no doubt that one is in Asia. But it is also a very different life than South East Asia or Bhutan.

Part of the fun in a new country is just observing the every day life and seeing what is different and what is the same from home or other places one has visited. Just a man walking down a street is a good photo opportunity as it gives us a glimpse into a new world.

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Earth Itinerant

Am currently on my first trip to Asia,.bopping around Thailand for five weeks. Would be interested in a post comparing and contrasting China and SE Asia.

Earth Itinerant

I truly had just finished reading this interesting post when I start chatting with a man next to me at a cafe here in Chiang Mai. He is Chinese American, grew up in San Francisco's Chinatown, and has lived in Yunan province with his Chinese wife for five years. There is much he likes about his life there, but he was also clear (in his opinion, of course) that "If you want to see real Chinese culture do not go to China."

Wow! His experience says that 'real' Chinese culture still exists in a diaspora away from the home country and has not been polluted by the Revolution, Communism, etc. He was specific that one of these relatively undiluted places is one of your favorites, Penang, Malaysia.


Jeanne @soultravelers3

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Good idea for a post, something we certainly are looking at as we travel here.

Always hard to generalize though as China is so big and even parts of Beijing and parts of Shanghai are so very diverse from one another....just in one city. With 20 million people in a city..there might be 20 million views on this. ;)

SE Asia is also quite diverse. The Chinese in Penang seem quite different than the Chinese in Thailand or Indonesia. My daughter goes to school with all of these so we get to consider the similarities and differences.

I think it is very funny that he thinks there is no Chinese culture in China.

I certainly do not find that true at all, but I do think Penang has worked hard to keep their culture.

But even in Penang there are different types of Chinese and though they escaped the problems with Revolution, Communism, they had other things that "diluted" cultures are always in state of change I think.

Penang has done a great job at keeping their culture for sure...we see that with the acupuncture, TCM and school, but the diaspora is also affected by their environment and the other nationalities there IMHO.

Many Chinese and Indian Malays marry.

When I was first trying to find some TCM, I asked a TON of Chinese folks in Penang and none new any and suggested I go to western medicine like they do.

That surprised me and we find TCM very much part of the Beijing culture so far.

So he has some good points, but I don't think it is 100% accurate.

Even first generation Chinese Americans are often quite distant from their culture...compared to the Chinese here. Most don't even know their language and without that it is hard to know the culture.

We find this generation in China are working hard to give their kids traditional Chinese training that they missed ...trying to catch up for what the hard years took away.

I do think he has some good points about Penang that keeps the culture often with the Chinese schools.

My daughter knew things that most foreigners never know and that is from her Mandarin school there...teaching from the old masters and sages.

Many Chinese don't even know that.

So an interesting topic for sure and we are discussing these kinds of things with people here and get lots of different opinions.

My daughter first learned her Mandarin in the womb and her first year of life from a Chinese friend who grew up in China town SF and another Chinese American who was raised in China and lived in that area.

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