China gets known as a country with a vast and diverse geography. A country with a written history is stretching 3,600 years into the past, and a distinctive yet varied and open culture marked by richness and depth.
Let’s learn more about it…
- Learning Chinese
Consider language first. Chinese, with its thousand of written characters—the only descriptive language in the world that is actually in common use, is believed to be one of the most interesting languages to study. It gets reckoned as the most difficult language to learn; apart from the profusion of written characters, there are five speaking tones, each distinctively linked to a written character’s one-syllable pronunciation. Apart from being a challenging and interesting language, Chinese is also a rewarding language to learn; it is the repository of a literary heritage that includes poems and pithy sayings.
- China’s Festivals
Then there are the festivals. Under the category of ‘country-wide traditional festivals’, Chinese New Year and the celebrations of Mid-Autumn occurring later in the year are the most important. There are many ethnic festivals too—not surprisingly, considering the 55 ethnic minorities that China is home to. The various tribes celebrate New Year, Harvest and other occasions in different ways.
- Eating and Drinking in China
The cuisine is yet another cultural enjoyment that this country offers. Since the Chinese believe in “waste not, want not”, an astonishing range of animals and plants get eaten, with nothing wasted—every part gets consumed. This has given rise to a cuisine that overwhelms the westerner not just with exquisite taste, but also, with astonishment, horror, and even disgust. Therefore, dear traveler, be warned; eating and drinking in China is different from what it is in the west. If you don’t eat Chinese and patronize the largest restaurants, you may circumvent the “surprises”.
At the same time, a good deal of Western food is available in China, much of it is of inferior quality; therefore keep a look out for international brands. Beware especially of chocolate, bread and milk, in addition to the more expensive products. Do not have high expectations; you will be disappointed if you do. Never forget that portions served in Chinese restaurants are much smaller, and sometimes almost half of those served in America.
- China’s Regional Cuisines
The traditional Chinese cuisine is distinctive also regarding its regional diversity, with each of the country’s many geographical regions using the resources that are unique to their locale. In Northern China, wheat is a staple food more than rice. Noodles and Dumpling, which get made from wheat, are typical of the north.
In the south, by contrast, rice is used far more, giving rise to foods like rice noodles and sticky rice wrapped in leaves, known as zongzi. Southern cuisine differs from the Northern as the food of the south is spicier, with chillies an item of daily consumption among the minorities there.
- China’s Heritage
China’s legacy to the world is both tangible as well as intangible. In the former category are the 48 sites in China that have found a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, which include 37, 8 and 3 that fall under the categories “Cultural Heritage”, “Natural Heritage” and “Cultural and Natural Heritage” respectively.