This is the second post in new video contributor Kelley Ferro’s five-part video series on China, the first of many series covering destinations across the globe. The first part is here, the third part is here, the fourth part is here, and the fifth part is here.
It’s incredible that a country with so much history can be so modern at the same time. One minute I was standing on the street corner of the future and the next, I was thousands of years back in time, experiencing life in old China. Beijing has the Forbidden City, the home of the Chinese emperors and one of the most incredible palaces in Asia. Nearby is Tiananmen Square where you can stand on the same stones that have borne witness to modern history.
I took a ride through ancient life in the hutongs of Beijing. A bike rickshaw carried me down these UNESCO-protected alleys, letting me catch glimpses of grandpas playing mahjong, mothers hanging their laundry and children playing catch in the courtyards. I could have spent all day here, wandering this maze of local life and stopping at a buzzing coffeeshop or hipster bar along the way.
The Old Town of Shanghai and the ancient walls of Xi’an are two other ways to experience ancient life of China. The Old Town has replicated what Shanghai used to look like, and it gives you a good window into life way back when. However, now it’s more of a tourist attraction than an authentic neighborhood. The walls of Xi’an offer the best vantage point in the city and you can circumnavigate this bustling town in just a few hours if you rent a bike up top.
Don’t miss the chance to learn more about China’s traditional dance and movement. Tai chi is performed in many of the local parks, usually in the early morning. Our guide encouraged me to join in and I did, trying to slow my movements down and hold poses as gracefully at the tai chi master. For something a little faster, the parks fill up in the evenings with older ladies that line-dance together. Locals told me that this is a very common way for the older generation of Chinese women to connect and socialize.
Clearly, I had to join right in, though as you’ll see in this video, I think I need to practice a bit more. :)
In Part 3: My China bucket list.