Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Thu May 28 2015

Opinion Home | Notes from the Goats

  • Nick and Dariece | May 28, 2015 3:00 AM ET

    4 Reasons Why China Should Be On Your Travel Bucket List

    4 Reasons Why China Should Be On Your Travel Bucket List

    When we tell people that China is one of the most incredible countries to travel through, we're often met with surprised looks, followed by many questions and statements - "Isn't China dirty?" "I thought they eat brains and weird food there." "There are too many people in China, I would hate it." While it's true that China is a massive, populated country, they eat some different food than we would eat in the west, and some of the cities are congested and polluted, these things definitely do not take away China's beauty and charm.

    There are many wide open spaces and rural areas in China, it's not all cities and shoulder-to-shoulder people, as many of us tend to think. Outside of the large metropolises like Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai, you'll find the air quality to be quite good, especially if you're in the countryside.

    I would say that the cuisine is tasty and interesting, not weird and gross. You may be surprised at what different foods you end up liking when they are prepared correctly. We tried everything from congealed duck blood to cow stomach and actually really enjoyed it! There are many reasons to travel to China, but here are a few of the best:

    The Countryside

    As I said before, there are lots of wide-open spaces in China, especially in the western part of the country, where there are many mountains as well. Outside of the city, this area of China takes on the feel of Tibet, with monasteries, monks, and prayer flags waving in the wind. Heading south will bring you to the Yunnan Province, which is known for its hiking. In particular, the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

    Other beautiful areas in the south are the rice fields and terraces around Guilin and Yangshuo. Rent a bicycle for the day and set off to explore the fields and rivers surrounded by towering limestone karsts.

    The People

    It's a well-known fact that Chinese people don't speak very much English, which is why their demand for English teachers is so high! Regardless of their inability to communicate with many people from the western world, they will try their very best to help you out whenever needed. If you're lost and looking for directions, try out some charades and hand signals, or even draw a picture to get your point across.

    When you do meet a local who speaks English, they'll be very interested to learn about you and your way of life, plus, they'll probably invite you out for a meal. Chinese people are very generous, curious, and kind. Just remember, a smile translates throughout all languages.

    The Food

    We've talked about the strange foods eaten in China, but trust me, there are many normal dishes as well! One of the most popular foods has to be dumplings, which can actually be made many different ways. Depending on which region you're in, the dumplings will either be steamed in a bamboo container, fried on a grill, or even deep-fried. Some will be shaped like a half-moon, while others will look like little packages with a draw-string top. The filling will consist of pork, tofu or egg, which will be mixed with some sort of green vegetable and seasoning. Typically, dumplings are dipped into a vinegar/chili sauce.

    Other dishes to sample are cold noodles, hot-pot (with all sorts of meats and vegetables), dry-fried cauliflower, tofu soup, chili tofu, fried pork with honey ginger sauce ... the list goes on and on. Chinese food is diverse in flavor and absolutely delicious!

    The History

    China has a civilization that is almost 5,000 years old. From the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to the explorer Marco Polo and the conquest of Genghis Khan, China's history is a rich and tumultuous one.

    Some of the top historical sites to see include the Great Wall of China, which spans 21,196 km (13,171 miles) and was built in the 7th century BC. Another must-see historical site is the Terracotta Warriors (Army) near the city of X'ian. More than 8,000 soldiers and hundreds of horses and chariots were carved out of solid clay and buried with first emperor Huang, who thought that these sculptures would protect him in the afterlife.

    China is one of those countries that's hard to put into words. The architecture is beautiful, the quirky customs of the people are interesting and the surroundings and unique culture are a constant reminder that you are somewhere exotic. Travel to China and see this amazing country for yourself.

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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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