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"China. That big country with 1,3 billion people. I’ve been to quite a lot of places during the last year but most of them had been in or around Europe so this was a challenge. Here are a couple of thoughts about my first experience visiting the far East. When my friend asked me if I wanted to come along and visit this mighty place I was both excited and a little scared.

But to be honest that’s exactly how I feel before every new journey.

My travels are usually all about mountains, pretty lakes and sunrises surrounded by flowers, but this was quite different. China does have stunning landscapes for sure and you will sit there in awe watching the clouds cover the mountains.

But for me China was more about the cultural experience, the interesting flora and fauna, the food that is just so much different from all I’ve ever had or would have dreamed of. It is safe to say that the time I spent in this country wasn’t enough, I don’t think you have enough days to really see it all. But it was enough to create new memories and to start the thirst for more adventures in this part of the world. Just because it is so refreshing to see that there is more to this world.

The people might be different in behavior, the toilets are definitely not for everybody, the food will probably make you sick every now and then, but China is still very interesting and something you should have experienced at least once in your life. Traveling in Europe is easy, in China it’s tricky and you really should make sure you know how things work there. Like the fact that before arriving 60% of your nights have to be booked and paid for. Simple things, yet very important.

After getting so used to not speaking my mother language while traveling in Europe or the US there was something else I had to learn: English is definitely not everybody's second language. Neither in little towns or villages, nor in the big cities like Chengdu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use gestures and a smile to understand each other. To order a simple milk tea is challenging but great fun and makes you realize that there is so much more to human interaction than just words. What I found most impressive: the buildings. Not the ones in Chengdu that touched the sky, but the ones in the villages that are still built by hand and last for generations. Or giant buddha statues built into stone thousands of years ago that can only speak for themeselves.

All in all what I can advice: be open minded.

Just because spitting on the streets is rude in our culture doesn’t mean it’s like that everywhere. Be just as open to new food, however weird it might look. Some of it is delicious, some of it will give you nights in the bathroom, so make sure to bring medicine for that." (Frauke Hameister)

"For the first moment there was almost nothing I have eaten before. From dinner to dinner we figured out what type of Chinese food was the best for us. Consequently the level of enjoyment increased.

Another vibrant experience was the traffic and the roads in general. We had pretty much all different kind of roads and traffic situations during our journey. From traffic jams to lonely roads in the mountains. From five lane highways to off road parts deep in valleys with no signal.

The traditions in China are going back thousands of years. We have visited many temple areas with huge Buddha statues. Faith has a big role in the middle Kingdom. We witnessed many people traveling far to visit the big temple areas such as one huge areal located on top of the Emei mountain.

One of my favorite activities was our visit in an old Tibetan village near Danba. The people are mostly farmers with a hand full of livestock such as cows, pigs and poultry. It was such a great interaction with people who don't speak your language or can't even read your letters. The people seem pretty happy with their easy life. No worries about first world problems.

They wake up every morning to take care of their family and animals. In some way desirable for me!

The landscape in the area around Sichuan is characterized by mountains and rivers spanning through the green valleys filled with trees. We even met some monkeys jumping around trying to steal our food. I’m super happy I had the opportunity to explore China to get closer to an unknown culture. Each day was different. This is one reason I enjoy this trip to much!" (Marcel Lesch)

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