Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are growing exponentially as millions leave their rural homes in search of better work opportunities. Visiting these cosmopolitan centers filled with ultra-modern skyscrapers and luxury-brand shopping, it is easy to forget that much of the country is as unlike those cities as wheat from diamonds.
Many Chinese still live in the vast countryside, in centuries-old villages where foreigners rarely tread. They work the land and fish the rivers, eking out a living and providing for their families the best way they know how. When sick, they often turn not to hospitals or doctors with newfangled Western techniques but to village practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. This ancient art relies on the use of herbal remedies and curious therapies such as cupping, where cups are suctioned to the skin supposedly to increase circulation. Often, these trusted healers set up shop right on the sidewalk. Locals will gather to compare ailments and strengthen their community bonds.
I always enjoyed coming across these impromptu clinics during my explorations because it was like being transported back in time. As the cities race towards modernity, large swathes of China remain nearly unchanged, continuing on much the same as they have since ancient times. There is something beautiful in that.
Putting aside a career in marketing, Heather moved with her husband to Shanghai in 2011 and spent two exciting years exploring the cultures and cuisines of Asia. Now back in the United States, she is eagerly planning her next expat escapade, which will take her to a yet another continent. Passionate about food, history and animals, Heather brings a curiosity and fun-loving attitude to most any experience that comes along. Read more about her adventures at www.ferretingoutthefun.com and connect with her on facebook and twitter.
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