Local Spotlight: Interview with our local partner in China
By Kati Taylor
China is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, with variety that is second to none. Within its many regions, a myriad of unique dialects, cultures and food scenes thrive side by side. Whether you want to explore sprawling mountain ranges and pristine alpine landscapes, or get swept up in the hectic pace of Beijing city, there’s something in China for everyone.
We caught up with Wei, our local partner, to chat about his dream travel destinations, fondest memories and his top recommendations for an adventure in China…
Describe what life is like in China
Life for me, and for most people in China, revolves around family. After work, people return to their homes, cook a delicious meal and spend the evening with their families, enjoying one another’s company. I often spend weekends visiting my parents and dedicate my holidays to my friends and other family members. People in general tend to be pretty active during the evenings, going dancing, walking or taking tai chi classes.
I have so many wonderful memories of my life in China, it’s hard to choose just one! I think one that stands out for me is spending time in the gardens near my home with my son when he was a toddler, we enjoyed so many happy evenings there.
What is your favourite place in China?
Guilin is my favourite place, partly because it is my home town but also because it has wonderful landscapes. The many rivers and lakes surrounding the city help it bloom, making sure that we don’t lose sight of the natural world. Guilin is quite a small town by Chinese standards and, because of the nearby lakes and rivers, it’s easy to get out into the countryside and enjoy some downtime. I love walking, biking and being there with friends, especially with a picnic!
What three words most represent China for you?
Development - As a person born in the 1970s, I have seen China change dramatically in quite a short period of time. Five years ago, our current position would have been unimaginable!
Fast paced - China has become a hub of activity and the main cities are now quite crowded. However, I think this is going to change - more and more Chinese people are recognising the importance of a more relaxed lifestyle, taking time to enjoy the natural world.
Vibrant - China is one of the most colourful and exciting destinations in the world, the sheer variety of experiences on offer is mind boggling!
How would you describe Chinese culture?
I think the core of Chinese culture was perfectly outlined by Confucius, a Chinese teacher and philosopher from ancient times. He claimed that the key elements are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, faithfulness and wisdom. This way of thinking has lasted thousands of years and I believe it’s at the core of how Chinese people see the world and interact with it. Chinese culture has absorbed all kinds of cultures from all over the world, but the core has never changed.
What is your favourite Chinese food?
My favourite food is fish cooked with tofu, tomato and hot pepper. It’s a delicious and warming dish and I heartily recommend it to any visitor!
Do you know any cool facts about China that most people wouldn’t know?
China is undergoing changes but not all of the changes are reported in foreign media. I think there’s a real movement towards positive development - living standards are rapidly improving, infrastructure is becoming more and more accessible and targeted poverty relief projects are making life easier for those who are most in need. Although there are countless facts about China, these are the kinds of developments I want people to know about!
What are the experiences people travelling to China definitely shouldn’t miss?
Sampling local food is, of course, a highlight of any visit. China has so many different regions and each has its own unique culinary footprint. Alongside this, there are diverse and interesting cultures to be found across the country. More broadly, I think China has a fascinating history which all visitors should try to engage with while they’re here!
Do you have any top tips for anyone thinking of visiting China?
I think the main thing is to be prepared for change - China is a fast paced country and things are not necessarily set in stone. It’s important to be flexible. I would also advise visitors to be aware of the differences between modern cities and rural countryside, not only is the latter far less developed, it’s also got an entirely different culture.
What inspired you to start your own travel company?
It was set up to make China a more viable and accessible travel option. The founders of the company were tour guides for years and decided that they could take their skills to the next level. They realised that clients had diverse needs but that most tour operators failed to cater for them. That’s why the company was set up - to cater to individual needs rather than just sending all visitors on the same ‘classic’ China tour.
We want to continue to diversify our travel programmes to make sure that we’re offering unique and exciting experiences. We are hoping to increase our focus on local culture and less explored areas of China, rather than showing clients the most popular and commonly visited sites.
Do you have a dream location you'd like to visit?
One thing I really like about TravelLocal is that it makes it easy to connect with other local tour operators around the world. It opens your eyes to how many destinations there are to explore. Jordan and Iran are on my wish list, if I can find time to travel outside of China!
Make it happen
Are you ready to explore China for yourself? Click here to visit our China page, or send an enquiry to Wei and his team to put their local knowledge to the test! For more general enquiries or to chat about your travel plans, give us a ring in office on 0117 325 7898.
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