We got in touch with Charles Cooper, editor of Bamboo Compass, to ask what he feels make China such a fantastic place to visit: “China remains a mystery to much of the world, especially to those who overlook this massive country when planning their holidays.But that is a part of the allure of China, a huge country with an incredible amount to see, taste, and sometimes even smell.Walking down Beijing's busiest thoroughfare, Chang'an Jie (a 30-mile long avenue thick with hooting traffic and whistling policemen) I made a point of stopping people in the street to ask them what they hoped the Games would achieve.There was, of course, a time when the only people allowed to speak to Westerners would have been communist party members primed with propaganda, but those days are gone, and I had no reason to doubt the motives of Ma Bin, a 32-year-old salesman for a coffee company, who said he hoped foreign visitors would discover "that China is a beautiful place where they will feel welcome", or Sang Shigany, 25, a law student, who said tourists "might be surprised to find how cosmopolitan Beijing is".English-language schools – not all of them legitimate – continue to mushroom, and while the expat population is primarily formed by English teachers, it also includes IT professionals, entrepreneurs, and guidance counsellors who prep harried Chinese children and their still-more-harried parents for universities abroad.Most are from European countries and the United States and predominantly white.To pass muster, they must always show between six and eight teeth and be capable of unflinchingly holding their grin for 10 minutes at a time.Those who cannot manage this must train for hours with a chopstick clamped between their teeth to build up their facial muscles.
I live in Beijing, a city of over 20 million people, with a history that dates back three millennia.
Beijing is also where China’s identity crisis makes itself most evident – the struggle to hold to its traditions, while attempting to shake them off in a race to become modern and Westernised.
Its winding , with homes that were built centuries ago, also house designer boutiques and craft breweries.
Beijing is a transitionary city for expats – few stay back forever. The pollution aside, Beijing still has a culture which remains alien for years after you have experienced it.
There are the grizzled veterans of course, but three to five years is the cut-off point for most. Add to this the tiny difficulties of navigating daily life – and the idea of permanently settling in Beijing seem daunting. He’s now back in the Philippines.” She has been dating a Briton for six months now, and the murmurs about him wanting to move back soon have already begun.“It’s like you get excited about someone new, but at the same time, you can’t get that excited either.