A part of me really hated China.
There were these little things, like people's daily habits which aggressively grated my nerves. People chewing with open mouths. Little kids in the street dropping their pants to pee. Grandmas spitting so hard they would make a trucker blush. Those habits irked me. But it was the class system, the way women are treated and the way the poor behave subserviently to the rich, which made me furious with the country, culture and people. I was indignant about it and kind of took it as a personal offense.
But I also really, really, really love China. I love it because its roots are not just roots. The country's ancient culture has not been left behind, but has grown upwards and outwards. Go into any local pharmacy and you will find it full of roots and herbs that are used for all kinds of ailments. And the youngest generation knows all about these traditional medicines, having adhered to their parents' and grandparents' instructions. Then there's the early mornings, when you will see all of the grandmas, aunties and nannies exercising outside, to the tune of old Chinese music. And the food those same women make...specific vegetables in specific months. I just love how rich China is with being...Chinese. It is strong and unmistakable. If you're in China, you'll never have to think for a second about where you might be.
Therein came my biggest lesson in travel so far: if you're gonna pack your bag and walk out the door into the unknown, you've got to be able to accept things for what they are. You're a visitor, an observer. It isn't for you to say what a society should or shouldn't be like. Listen, learn, and know that there's always something to love.
To love China for Chinese culture, for example, I had to accept the whole lot, not just the dumplings. And when I did that, there was a whole lot to love.h