I hear the phrase “The Real China” used quite often, and to be honest I’m guilty of using it one or two times myself. Bakes grows rather irate when people use the phrase “The Real China” and perhaps with good reason.

“I want to experience The Real China.”
“I want to live in The Real China.”
“I don’t live in Beijing or Shanghai, I live in The Real China.”

Expats and travelers alike use “The Real China” phrase. But what is “The Real China”?

I guess everyone has their own answer to this, Chinese people would say it’s the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong (and probably throw in the Koreas and Japan for good measure.)

Some backpackers ((and elitists, you know who you are) who I’ve met plenty of here in the Zhongguo) would say that The Real China is anywhere outside of Taiwan, Beijing, and Shanghai. I don’t care for these people, especially when they pass themselves off as well-rounded Sinophiles. Puh-lease.

As someone who lives in what many would refer to as “The Real China”, I’m here to tell you that China is just China. Like every country, different areas yield different socio-economic statuses. Each province has it’s own culture and history that makes up one big country, much like America with it’s different states all having their own history.

So, intrepid travelers, when you come to see “The Real China”, as soon as you step off that airplane, you’ve arrived. There is no “Real China” waiting just beyond, there is only China. And like every country, it has its good points and its bad points.

“The Real China” that you are looking for is in the faces of the locals, the historic and modern buildings, and the food. Don’t forget the food.