I get this all the time from the folks I meet. My response? “No, you don’t. You might want to go to China, but you don’t want to go with me.” Don’t get me wrong, I think China is great in many ways. It is no exaggeration that I love China, even when I hate it. I encourage everyone to go at least once in your life. But the people who say this to me want to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Winter Palace, the Temple of Heaven, etc. So do I, since I’ve only crossed the first two off my list in 15 years of travel to the PRC.
“My China” is the industrial south, Guangdong Province, the ‘workshop of the world’. Miles and miles of factories, awful pollution, with precious little else. I grew up in a factory, so to me this is second nature, but it is not the typical haunt of tourists. In a sense this is a shame, as I think people need to see more of how things get made in order to appreciate the world they live in. Factories should be part of the tourist agenda for visitors to China. China’s transformation over the last 30 years is truly miraculous, and the factories of Dongguan are as much a monument as the Great Wall.
Mike Bellamy and I have been privileged to play a microscopic part in China’s development over the last 10 years with PassageMaker, and we are looking forward to the next decade and beyond.