Last few days have been a little busy. I washed my favourite T-Shirts and jeans, cleaned my backpack, dusted off my boots. I checked if my camera, which was lying unused ever since Burma, was still working. I packed my iPod with new music (Yes, I still use an iPod) and bought a new book. I used to find myself looking at the clock every few minutes, hoping to miraculously find that the day is over and I am one day closer to heading out to a new destination.
Yes, it is that time of the year again!
And this time around, it is going to be awesome because this time I am visiting a country that I had always wanted to visit. Very few countries can claim to have the kind of history, culture and diversity as this country does. It is a country that invented toilet paper and gun powder. It is a country where a rich man can hire a body double to serve their prison sentences. It is a country where reincarnation is forbidden without government approval, and so is death. This country owns all the pandas of the world, and loans them out to other countries. They can build skyscrapers in five days and have censored the word “censorship”. It is the home of the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
Yes, I am going to the People’s Republic of China!!
Haaaiyaaa!!! **Breaks table with a kung fu chop**
Chinese Visa process is pretty straight forward. Prepare the documents, as mentioned in the VFS website, fill up the online form and take a print out. Take a photo of yourself (No selfies!) and paste it on the form and you are good to go.
The normal processing time is 4 working days. You may also pay some extra bucks to opt for the express service and get it the next day.
The plan is to fly to Shanghai and stay there for a few days. See the Bund, try the famous soup-dumplings, experience the bustle of Nanjing Road and visit a few traditional Chinese temples.
I would also visit Xi’an, the home of the Terracotta Warriors. The city is also famous for its food. I hope to hire a bicycle one day and explore the city walls and the pagodas.
Then there is Beijing, the capital, famous for the Peking duck. While here, I would visit the palaces of Forbidden City, the Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, the Lama Temple and of course, last but not the least, The Great Wall of China, one of the Wonders of the World. While all these will no doubt be great, the real fun will be to walk or cycle around and explore the small nooks and corners that are not covered in guidebooks and TV shows.
I will also try to spend a few days in small towns, like Xi’tang, where I could get a glimpse of the China of yesteryears.
I also have to…just have to… somehow see a panda.
It’s will be a great trip!
I have been looking forward to this trip for a while now, so I have left no stones unturned. I have practiced eating with chopsticks. I have watched videos on Chinese history, landmarks, food, scams etc. on YouTube. I have even watched the Karate Kid and Kung Fu Panda, several times over.
They say that Facebook, Twitter and many other popular websites are restricted/banned in China.
But that isn’t a problem with me since I am already sick of them.
**Oh look that creepy dude uploaded another selfie of himself** Fuck that!
I will be staying mostly in hostels and guest houses. Being cheap is my forte.
They say, in China they eat everything that has legs, apart from chairs and everything that has wings, apart from airplanes.
I seriously do not know what to expect when it comes to food. I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos about food in China, and seems like it can range from dumplings and Peking duck to silk worms and sheep penises.
My problem however, is not the weird food. My problem is what happens if I like one of these weird delicacies. What happens when I come back home and start craving for caterpillars or fried ice cream or donkey meat?
Where will I get those in Mumbai?
How the hell do you even fry ice cream!!
- Many travelers have written about the unhygienic conditions in which food is cooked in the street side stalls. So, while I would definitely try out some new delicacies, it would be smart to only eat from places where the locals seem to be eating too.
- The quality of water is a concern as well. It is said that 90% of Chinese people consume contaminated water. So, my plan is to only drink mineral water, and buy them only after checking the seal of the bottle.
- It seems some of the bigger cities in China can get so polluted that on some days you will feel like you are living inside a thick cloud of smog. Everything will appear grey and you won’t even be able to see the other side of the road. Breathing for a day in a city like Beijing is almost like smoking 21 cigarettes. In fact, the pollution situation is so bad that the smoke and dust flies off from China, over the Pacific Ocean and into the United States. It is said that 29% of the pollution levels of San Francisco is caused by China.
So, maybe I’ll buy a mask. Maybe.
4. China is a communist country and almost everything is owned by the Government. It will be incredibly dumb of me to say anything bad about the Government while I’m there.
China, like India, seem to be a country full of interesting contrasts. On the one hand, we have a side of China that is glittering with new skyscrapers, bustling with businesses, growing at a breakneck speed while on the other hand, we have another side that is still struggling to provide even the most basic needs to a sizeable portion of its people.
By the time you finish reading this, I will probably be on a plane somewhere up in the sky, trying to catch some sleep. I wrote “probably” because sometimes planes crash, in which case I’ll probably be dead by now. I wrote that “probably” because sometimes people survive plane crashes.
Anyway, I know this has been a very long post, but hey, I haven’t written for a while, so cut me some slack.
Thank you for reading. Keep following the blog! 中国，我来了！