Life in China Interview series – Twan Roubroeks

How did you end up living in Chengdu?

It was 2013, I just had quit my office job to follow my dreams and move to China. I always had a passion for traveling to the unknown. I was blown away by Asia when I studied in Singapore in 2006 and traveled around South Easy Asia. Afterwards, via a student business project in Argentina I got inspired to start a business development agency focused on some international destination.  That destination became China. After working in several cities in China to represent Dutch companies, we read about the rapid developments and the cultural significance of Chengdu and Chongqing. We decided to have a look. Before I knew it, I was there for 5 years.

Wow 5 years! What were the main things you liked about Chinese people in those years?

I liked a lot of of things about Chinese people especially in Chengdu. First of all the humor they have there. It seems to me that it’s the best humor of all the people in China :). I’m not sure of it’s true haha. But I think it is! Secondly the way they relax throughout the weekdays and weekend. It was as if this people lived on a much slower pace than the rest of the world, because of the people. I loved it. Third, the attention and passion people have for good food. It’s as if the food is the most important thing in their life. I liked it a lot, the food was so good! I think the food is so good because of the people making it.

What did you think of the spicy food in Chengdu?

As I mentioned above: the food is so good! In the beginning, the spiciness is hard to handle. Really, it’s so hard. You almost can’t taste the food because it’s so spicy. However, after a while you start to get used to it. And that’s when the fun starts. Then, slowly but surely, you start to understand the depth of the tastes of the food. It’s really like that. I started to be able to differentiate between different dishes and tastes, through the peppers and spices. At some point (as many Chengdu locals ;)), I even got addicted to some dishes. I couldn’t spend a day without them anymore. This is how much I loved the Sichuan food.

Which other places did you travel to in China and what were your favorites?

I traveled to many places in China. For example JiuzhaiGou, Guilin, ShangriLa, Shanghai, Beijing, The Great Wall, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Tianjin, and more. I took trains in China, flights, boats, I even did some skiing in Wenzhou area in Sichuan. I can’t really day what’s my favourite place. For culture and to see a lot of important Chinese sights, Beijing is my favourite. For a modern skyscraper experience, you will love Shanghai! For great hot pot, Chengdu and Chongqing are amazing. Chongqing has the mountains, it’s really an incredible landscape.

Any advice for people traveling to China?

Try to read about the culture before you go. Also try to learn a few Chinese words before you go. It’s really much more enjoyable when you are able to talk a few words with locals. But overall: Just go with the flow! Don’t worry about too many things. China is a safe country and the people will help you wherever you travel. If you are not aware of the local cultural traditions and customs, it’s ok. Of course, if you know a few things about these, it’s greatly appreciated. This is of course the case in many cultures around the world.

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