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I Am Not A Rich Chinese

Global perception of the Chinese has changed, and the world of tourism is changing with it.

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A guesthouse on a backstreet of Jincheng named its price. 

They wanted like $100 per night and acted like it was cheap. 

“I’m sorry, but I am not a rich Chinese!” I exclaimed with a laugh. 

The prices of accommodation here on Kinmen seem pegged to what Chinese with massive amounts of disposable income from across the narrow 3 kilometer stretch of water are accustomed to paying. 

I walked out, and it was only then the significance of what I said struck me. 

I am not a rich Chinese

If I said something like this when I first started going to China just twelve years ago people would have looked at me like I may have misspoke. You just wouldn’t say that then — it would have just been too far outside of general perception… and facts. People from China were know for being poor then — they were “the weak man of Asia.” 

But now my statement is a completely normal thing to say. 

In hardly a decade the global perception of people from China has done a complete about-face. The Chinese — people who rarely ever traveled for recreation beyond the borders of their country just a handful of years ago — are now starting to drive tourism worldwide. The airports of SE and South Asia are clogged with Chinese backpackers, the hostels and tourist restaurants of the world are now flaunting Chinese translations right next to — and sometimes even supplanting — English, and Chinese tour groups are impacted price points just about everywhere they go.

When I first started going to China people thought that I had more money than them just because I was from the USA. They don’t seem to think that anymore. 

Us Western, English speaking tourists have had our day. The world adapted and marketed itself to us for generations. We’re old news now. There is a new hand that feeds, and the redback will soon be tastier than the green.


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Filed under: Kinmen, Taiwan, Tourism

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3715 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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