The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is well-known as the most populous country on the face of the planet. There are many people to meet, much to do, and places to visit. You may have the idea that China is a country in which everyone lives in a Pagoda, cute and cuddly Pandas roam the streets of Beijing, and women wear fancy garb.
This is not true. While about 7,000 miles from the United States, China is very similar to the U.S. in many regards. The economy is based around the system of capitalism, people work hard to provide for their families, and many Chinese people own a car.
‘Well crap, why the heck am I going to teach English there in a few months?’ Never voice these concerns. China is an amazingly diverse and cultured nation. Here are some of the most popular tourist sites when you get a chance to travel within the country.
While technically a region of China, the relations between Tibet and China have been fiercely debated over the history of the two regions. The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is, as a result, is pretty tough to acquire a permit for. If you are lucky though, visiting the Potala Palace in Lhasa (the capital of Tibet) is completely worth it. Overlooking Lhasa, the construction of Potala was started in 1645 by Lozang Gyatso, the fifth Dalai Lama. The palace is made up of over 1,000 rooms and 10,000 shrines.
Great Wall of China
Probably the most well-known tourist attraction of China is of course the Great Wall. Construction of the 5,500 mile-long structure started just before 200 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The first iteration of the wall was not very high and was made of tightly-packed soil. It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century that the wall started to become the wall you see today. This is the point in which bricks and stone were used to reinforce the wall, along with over 20,000 watchtowers. While the wall proved to be relatively ineffective to repel invasion (the Mongols breached by simply traveling around the wall as the wall itself was discontinuous), it is one of the most visited international tourist attractions today.
While a large open court may not sound like an exciting location to take a trip, it is important to understand the events that happened there as opposed to the area’s general aesthetics. On June 4, 1989, students protested against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and demanded that the people of China should be more inclusive in the CCP’s economic and governmental directions. They specifically desired to reform the corrupt party elite and establish more individual freedoms as they pertained to the press and speech. Designating the demonstration as “counterrevolutionary” the CCP sent in the military to establish order. While it is unknown how many died during the event, it was reported by the New York Times that 400-800 civilians were killed along with around 50 soldiers. You may have seen the popular photograph of the Chinese student standing in front of the Chinese tank battalion. Tiananmen Square remains one of the favorite spots for native Chinese tourists to visit in Beijing today.
Keeping this article short enough to keep your interest while also providing enough information for the various sites is extremely difficult. There are countless other interesting destinations around China including Hong Kong, Three Gorges Dam, the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, the entire country of Shanghai, the… Ok, I’ll just stop. You may have heard of all these sites, maybe not, but rest assured teaching English in China and being able to visit some of these places will be a remarkable experience and one that will impact your life in ways you can’t begin to imagine.
If you would like to apply to teach English in China, you can do so by clicking here.
About the Author
After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master’s degree.