Meatbreak asked “How big does China seem when you’re actually in it?
Strangely enough, not as big as I thought. I live in a city of immigrants from all over China and they all seem to return home from time to time with little fuss. Something like 95% of Chinese are from the same ethnic group – Han – and while they have many different dialects they all speak Putonghua – “common-speech”, or “Mandarin” as we know it. For these reasons society seems fairly uniform, and I feel familiar with two thirds of the country though I’ve seen virtually none of it. Not only have I not left Guangdong province while I’ve been here, I haven’t been to the capital (Guangzhou) or even the next town (Zhongshan). My view of the country is therefore a little skewed right now. Once I’ve traveled across to Beijing by train, boat and plane I hope to have a more coherent picture of what is out there.
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