Today, I am honored to share this guest blog post from author and world traveler, Beau Sides!
I’m Beau Sides, the author of the new travel book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education. On my website, www.BeauSides.com, I write about my adventures in China, the many interesting and beautiful aspects of China, and its unique culture.
After more than forty trips and numerous teaching tours in China, I consider it my second home. Each opportunity for me to foster cultural awareness and acceptance among Chinese and Americans is unique and rewarding. I believe that anyone interested in Chinese culture or in building cross-cultural relationships between Americans and Chinese will benefit from the lessons shared in the book and on my blog.
I recently returned from a trip to China, and my travel plans included something I don’t always experience. I had three train rides in my travel plans this time, and they were all interesting and unique. The first trip my friends and I were in the “hard seat section.” This is the most economical way to travel by train, and we met a lovely family sitting next to us that owns a grocery store. On the return trip, we had a hard seat again, and the train was very crowded. The man sitting next to me wasn’t sober, so he was good for a laugh or two for everyone sitting around us. This was the first time I had ever seen someone less than sober on a train, so that was interesting to me. The final train ride was in a soft sleeper car, so that was VERY comfortable! The terminals in the major cities are large and busy. It is easy to see other train options from the station and locate your gate, because the signs are large and easy to find.
There are also other options for traveling besides trains. If you are in a hurry, you can always fly. If you prefer a more economic and scenic route, you could take a bus, which is very common in China. If you are traveling locally, you could take a taxi, which come in various shapes and sizes!
One thing to know about traveling in China is that initially, the street traffic will appear crazy to an American, but once you spend time in it, you will see that it works. Also, you will hear more horns being blown in China than in the states. The horns have a different meaning in China, where they mean something like, “Hey, I am here, coming up from behind you, so let’s not bump into each other.” Rather than “Hey, get out of my way!” in the states.
Beau Sides is the founder and president of Global Partners in Life, a non-profit organization that helps orphaned children, special needs orphans, and disadvantaged youth with educational, humanitarian and medical needs in China. He is also the author of “Lessons from China” (April 2014), a fictional story of a young woman who moves to China to teach English, only to discover that she has some lessons of her own to learn. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Follow him on Twitter @beausides and visit his website – beausides.com.