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Typical Chinese tour group. Photo Credit: Tom Carter

Chinese Tour Groups Suck

In Defense of Chinese Tour Groups

Panpan Wang
Apr 11, 2017 · 12 min read

Who Is A Chinese Tourist?

You were born in 1954.

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Photo taken by my dad of me and my mom at his labor camp in 1986, 10 years after leaving it. I’m sucking on a sugar cane.

My Dad is a Chinese Tourist.

This was my father’s story.

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Scott Richard, Flickr.

I remember there being a lot of cars. Everywhere there were cars. That was impressive. And I remember the grocery store. So many choices!

My first impression of America was that it was a land of cars. The second, that it was a land of consumer products.

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99 Cent, by Andreas Gursky

I Am A Chinese Tourist

I used to live in Hong Kong, but I was there recently on vacation. While at the top of The Peak having a coffee I struck up a conversation with woman who had been living in Central for over a decade but is from Australia.

“There’s just so many of them”, she said. “They do all their luxury shopping here because it’s cheaper than on the mainland. Busloads of them. And it’s just getting worse.”

I had already told her that I was born in mainland China in the same town as my father. I do not recall professing a deep self-loathing or otherwise invite this malice.


We Are All Chinese Tourists

Nowadays there’s a fetishization of the “traditional”, and a premium placed on the authentic.

Along the false dichotomy of Authentic vs. Inauthentic, who is to judge which is which?

And why are we judging others’ experiences in the first place?

If a historian two hundred years from now were to document the “authentic” China and the “authentic” America of today, I suspect they would dedicate more paragraphs to the Nike and Foxconn factories of Guangzhou — pistons of a global economic engine — than they would the Forbidden City or old Hutong alleyways of Beijing. More footnotes on the decline of Detroit and our failing inner city public schools than on the Grand Canyon and Lady Liberty.


Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Isn’t this part of why we all travel and want others to travel? To expand our horizons? To come back a little different than when we left?


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Source: World Bank

My Mom Is A Chinese Tourist

My mom is effervescent and charming. She’s spent the second half of her life in Kansas and California. She will never live in China again because she says, “The people are rude, and it’s too dirty and crowded.”

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My mom with slightly confused but happy shopkeepers in Dubai. Complete with awkward arm wrap.

“Do we have to eat this ‘hoommus’ again? It’s sort of like mud.”

When we were in Jerusalem I Yelped a Chinese restaurant for lunch one day. It was pretty terrible, but it was exactly what she and I both wanted.

“Vietnam is so poor!” She exclaimed when I told her I was going to there for a month.

“We left China to leave that behind. No, thank you. I’ve seen enough poverty for one lifetime.”

She and her husband now aspire to travel twice a year. Their most recent trip was to Alaska on a Carnival Cruise. They couldn’t get enough of the crab legs at the buffet. Chinese people love buffets with crab legs. Especially Alaskan crab legs in Alaska.


You made it! Click that ❤! Or if you prefer: 哇塞!您完成了!请按 ❤.

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Startup Grind

Stories, tips, and learnings from and for startups around…

Panpan Wang

Written by

Executive Coach. co-founder @flexfits.com. Embracing Uncertainty.

Startup Grind

Stories, tips, and learnings from and for startups around the world. Welcoming submissions re: startup education, tech trends, product, design, hiring, growth, investing, and more. Interested in submitting? Visit our submission form here: https://airtable.com/shrShpeN89HrzCzOB

Panpan Wang

Written by

Executive Coach. co-founder @flexfits.com. Embracing Uncertainty.

Startup Grind

Stories, tips, and learnings from and for startups around the world. Welcoming submissions re: startup education, tech trends, product, design, hiring, growth, investing, and more. Interested in submitting? Visit our submission form here: https://airtable.com/shrShpeN89HrzCzOB

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