Why we love it: China

This is our first in a series of blogs called "Why we love it". Each blog was written by a Peregrine staffer who has felt a special connection with that destination. Today's inspirational piece is about China.

I’ve had the perfect day in China. Wake up, listen to the sound of the street markets slowly grinding into the gear, the lanes beginning their daily bustle. Explore the streets for breakfast and a spot of shopping, before hopping on a bike and heading out of town.

Yangshuo and the surrounding countryside, for me, are incomparable. It only takes a matter of minutes from the downtown and you’re among countless jutting limestone peaks, abrupt and lush, with water buffalos and conical-hatted farmers working the fields nearby. Every corner turned, every karst outcrop you circle, reveals another scene seemingly lifted from a postcard, or straight from my imagination of what rural China looks like.

I went there in June, which is one of the wetter months, and the scenery was so vivid with rich greens and golds that it looked good enough to eat! Speaking of which, food is another reason why I love the country. It’s unfair to the regional cuisines to talk of a generic ‘Chinese food’ because there’s great variety, and discovering the flavours of different regions has been one of the great pleasures for me of travelling to different areas of China.

Hong Kong is one of the great food cities and a perfect first stop for sampling dishes from different regions. I’ve visited Hong Kong a few times, and must have put away a small mountain of dumplings by now! I love the salty food of northern China, and the sour palate– reminiscent at times of Southeast Asia - of Guangxi Province, and most of all, I love Szechuan cuisine. Give me a pile of stir-fried beef, alive with the tingle of Szechuan pepper, star anise and lashings of ginger. Perfect. I’d recommend to anyone visiting the region to try the hotpots as well, definitely one of the culinary highlights of the entire country.

My most recent visit to China was an active one (at least by my standards) – walking sections of the Great Wall. Travelling by foot is a great way to appreciate the immense size of the wall, and to really take in the beautiful Yangshan Mountains. It wasn’t easy trekking, but it definitely meant I’d earned all the food I ate when we returned to Beijing! I’ll definitely return, as I’d love to explore more of the wall, to see how the scenery and the wall changes as it continues its long journey. There really is always a great reason to return to this endlessly fascinating country.

Tell us what you love most about China in the comments section below. Then head to Twitter and Facebook to upload images, share stories and discuss China with the rest of the Peregrine community.

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