I travelled a lot over the years and I am, of course, aware of the famous saying that travelling educates. But you need some reminder now and then to really think about it, and let yourself being educated.
Visiting Beijing was such a major event in my life. This visit detailed my view of China quite a bit. It changed my view in a very positive way I might add. My expectations of the visit were very low, to be honest. I like watching documentaries and had a clear picture of Beijing. So I thought. But I was overwhelmed in the end when I was finally there.
It is still hard for me to describe what I experienced and how it changed my view on China. I try to give you some snippets: I had pictured a much more different people, a more exotic / strange look. But what I saw in the streets and at the different touristic places were people clothed just like me. No „Mao look“, but individualism. Globalisation has taken its place in China as well. Mobile phones were used everywhere. Politics seemed as far away for Chinese people as for many Western people in daily life. CNN is available on television and in public places. The famous censorship on the World Wide Web was not noticeable to me—not that I had too much time to surf there. A colleague told about not having access to Wikipedia if I remember correctly. The Communist Party has no effective way in the long run to keep the Chinese people away from what is going on outside in the world.
I took a lot of photos and some videos of the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace, Lao She Teahouse, and of some other places in between (flickr, youTube). I enjoyed my stay in Beijing very much and encourage you to visit this country if you can. It is worth a visit and being educated.