I have never been to China. In fact, I have never been on a holiday or vacation at all. I have not experienced the wonders and mysteries of the eastern world, nor tasted their authentic cuisine. I have, however, taken a lovely mental journey throughout the stretches of China, from Hong Kong to Beijing, courtesy of a few compelling travel brochures.
A visit to China now on my list of “Things to do Before I Die” as I have been hooked in by the vast array of exciting new experiences and inspirational sights that are offered up to hungry tourist eyes. China it seems, is being “sold” to potential tourists as the ultimate package holiday; catering to the desires of everyone from the adventurer, to the foodie, to the photographer, to the ones who just want to get their “shop” on.
One of the main ways in which China is portrayed is through its magnificent historical sights. Brochure after brochure features images of ancient wonders such as the Temple of Heaven, The Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army. Scattered amongst these historical snapshots are the stereotypical images of men and women hunched, straw hats on, over rice paddies; just to make sure us tourists don’t forget that it’s China we are drooling over. STA Travel describes its “Roam China” tour as a way to combat boredom with majestic sights and adventures that are sure to inspire.
When vacationing in China, tourists are not only able to witness ancient treasures and architecture, they are also reeled into the holiday by the beautiful natural scenery that is splashed across every travel book page. Kuoni’s “Incredible China” tour includes cruises along China’s Yangtze River that is described as having “beautiful mountain countryside and dramatic gorges”. Photographs of winding rivers and mountains subdued by mist tantalise the eyes, drawing potential tourists further into the mysteries of China.
Panda Bears also seem to be a big selling point as their cute and cuddly (looking) faces are often featured in brochures. Vacationers are able to visit Chengdu’s Giant Panda Breeding Research Base to get up close and personal with China’s most famous, Bamboo eating bears.
However, for those individuals who are not so inclined to wildlife and nature, China has something for them too. The midnight lights and the hustle and bustle of cities like Shanghai and Beijing are offered for those who want to see the awesome skyscrapers or for those whose main aim is simply to hit up China’s extensive shopping districts.
Chinese cuisine is also one of the key highlights for tourists. Brochures tickle the taste buds of potential travellers as they offer up the opportunity for those on tours to sample the many authentic dishes and specialities available. Foodies are given the best of both worlds, as they are able to roam around China’s food markets sampling local delicacies and are also able to enjoy meals from many of China’s modern restaurants.
China is clearly being sold as an exciting, inspirational and unforgettable country to visit. Brochures and websites alike boast a country that is not only steeped in ancient history and jaw dropping, natural scenery, but it seems that China is being bottled up as the ultimate cure for those of us suffering from an “average” life.
Although many of the featured highlights of a holiday in China are the amazing historical sights, it is very apparent that China is eager to show off its contemporary, new world status. “Modern” and “vibrant” are two words that pop up again and again in brochures portrayals of China. With nearly every vacation tour featuring the lights, sounds and tastes of the big super cities, whilst ensuring that customers are appropriately wined and dined in luxury, it appears that China is doing a pretty good job at representing the modern country status they so desire.