2008 will likely be remembered as the year that put China on the map. Of course, China has always been a very large and extremely populated presence on any map. However, government rule throughout the decades has kept the exotic culture of China shrouded in mystery and, in many ways, closed to the outside world.
With the close of the Olympics in the host city of Beijing, chances are that you have learned more about China in the past few months than at any time before. Beijing pulled out all the stops to show itself as a modern city. Much of the pageantry surrounding the Olympics served to highlight the new face of China. Nothing compares with the Olympics when looked at as a stage that helps bring the world together. While Beijing remains a hot spot for travel, the rest of China is as vast and diverse as the sports represented in the Olympics.
On the other end of the country, far from bustling Beijing is Yunnan Province—home to the largest variety of ethnic groups in China. The California Native gives the following advice to those traveling to China:
China is a large country with a long history and diverse culture. In the last two decades, great changes and modernization have taken place there, but traditions in most areas still remain as before. It is appreciated when you respect the traditions, culture, local customs and taboos, especially if your tour involves more remote ethnic areas such as Yunnan Province and other areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.
Be friendly and sincere, polite and patient. Since China’s opening to the outside world nearly three decades ago, though they have become happier, more open-minded, and prosperous, Chinese people are inherently shy and modest. They rarely display emotion and feeling in public, and find plain speaking unnerving.
China warmly welcomes overseas visitors, and authorities are working in earnest to improve facilities and enhance the quality of service, but China is still a developing country. So, be flexible, show good will, and a readiness to understand, and enjoy your experience in this fascinating country.