Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beijing tagged "unfriendly" city

A Beijing hutong
Beijing was named one of the most unfriendly cities in the world by readers of Conde Nast in the publication's annual readers choice survey, the results of which were recently published on CNN online.

Conde Nast readers ranked Beijing No. 6 on the top 10 list of the world's unfriendliest cities, ranking between Johannesburg, South Africa, which was No. 1, and No. 10, Nassau, Bahamas.

Melbourne, Australia, was named the world's friendliest city by Conde Nast readers.

I'm sorry, but I just can't agree with the assessment of Beijing. As someone who lived in Beijing for two years and has made about 15 trips total to China, I have found the Chinese to be very friendly and willing to go the extra mile to help me.

I'm guessing the difference in opinion may lie in how people travel. I am a budget traveler, who likes to mingle with locals in territory, such as local markets, parks and neighborhood restaurants. I will admit that locals will try to talk you into paying higher prices at street markets than the Chinese do. They know what they're doing, I know what they're doing, so it becomes a game of fun to bargain them down.

Conde Nast travelers most likely are well-heeled. They stay in five-star hotels, won't eat at neighborhood restaurants, take tours around the city, and are pretty much isolated from the Chinese outside their hotel. They are getting a sanitized version of the Chinese capital. Under those circumstances, it isn't hard to imagine they'd think Beijingers are an unfriendly lot.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

What's your opinion of Beijingers? Are they really unfriendly?

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to China, check out my website, Cheryl's China, for tips and recommendations on things to see and do in the Middle Kingdom. And feel free to email me if you have questions about travel in China.