China blogger Brittany Hite on hittin' up Hong Kong and the PRC

Culture | by China Travel
Posted: September 15th, 2011 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments

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Work brought Brittany Hite to the Middle Kingdom and a love of travel took her around the country (and the rest of the world). Want to know more? Then hit up Brittany Hite's Wordpress for more on her travels and travails in Hong Kong and the Mainland but first, check out what she has to say on China travelin'....>>> Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in China? Brittany Hite: As I was slogging away at an entry-level media job in New York, I realized one thing that nearly every high-level editor seemed to have in common: overseas experience. Of the dozen or so people I worked with directly, I was the only one who hadn't been abroad. So I decided to remedy that, and China seemed like as good an option as any: Native English speakers were in relatively high demand, and the country is the story of the century as far as news goes. So I applied to lots of random things and landed a job editing and polishing economic articles that had been translated from Chinese into English and needed to be cleaned up. I did that for a year in Beijing, and then landed a job back for a mainstream U.S. media outlet in Hong Kong. Did you write a blog back home or was it something you started here? Brittany Hite:  I had a blog in New York, but never actually wrote on it much. When I came to China, I decided to start blogging more than anything just as a way to easily share my stories and photos with my friends and family back home. It also has saved me from having to tell the same stories over and over again to each family member/friend, and I figure when something happens to me that is impossible to figure out (like Beijing), I might as well write about and document it in case it can save someone else the trouble of figuring it out in the future via a Google search. Have you had the chance to travel very much in China? Tell us about your best experience so far. Brittany Hite: When I was in Beijing, I traveled quite a bit as it was so cheap; China's relatively safe to travel around solo and there's so much to see. Of course, now, being in Hong Kong, traveling is a bit more difficult because I've got to get a visa each time (US$140), so I can't do it as often. Sanya, on Hainan island in the far south. I went traveling by myself but happened to meet a group of Chinese architects about my age on the beach. They didn't speak much English, and my Chinese was still quite rough, but they took me out for dinner, taking me by the market where you purchase your live fish and vegetables and then off to a restaurant to where they cook everything for you. The food was excellent and I felt the hospitality shown to me was something that will always stick with me, even though we all had bits of trouble communicating. And your worst? Brittany Hite: I've actually been lucky. I know that everyone has a horror China travel story, but my travels have all been all right, minus some minor hiccups along the way (which means I am obviously jinxing myself the next time I travel). Though I wasn't traveling, my passport was stolen on the subway in Beijing and that would probably count as my worst experience. Also, getting sick on my first-ever visit when my stomach wasn't used to the place was a total drag. You’re currently based in Hong Kong, what are your top 5 recommendations for a first time visitor to get a real feel for the city? Brittany Hite: Hong Kong is obviously much different than the rest of mainland China. I've written lots of recs on Beijing, but for HK I'd say just get outside of Hong Kong island:
  • Go hiking in the mountains.
  • Visit a beach (you can swim in the water; I promise it's safe).
  • Visit an island that isn't accessible by roads (I live on one such place, Lamma Island). Camp overnight if you can.
  • Eat in a restaurant where you can't read the menu; if you don't know what to order, just guess, or look around you at what others are eating and point.
  • Go to an outdoor food (wet) market and just wander around. What is the one thing you wish you’d known about China before arriving? Brittany Hite: People don't really speak English. I'd always read and heard how Chinese students studied English for up to 10 years in school, so I thought I'd have no problem getting by. Not the case. What do you miss most from home? Brittany Hite: Besides, of course, my family and friends, I miss the openness of America. Taking long drives on the interstate, with the windows down, the radio blasting and the sun shining from a clear, smog-less blue sky. Also finding shoes and clothes in my size. What would you miss most in China if you were to leave tomorrow? Brittany Hite: Without a doubt, Sichuan. It's Xinjiang. It's dim sum. It's Yunnan. They're all so different but all so delicious. What three words sum up your China experience? Brittany Hite: Fascinating. Frustrating. Life-changing.
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