My favorite part of the Olympics are all the stories they tell in between events. I like to learn more about the althletes, where they’re from, and about the host country.
The stories about Beijing have mostly centered around politics and smog, but there have also been some beautiful glimpses of the country outside Beijing. It may seem even more foreign to you than other international destinations you’ve visited (you’d be hard pressed to get a seahorse kebab in Paris or Rome), in many ways China is just as easily negotiated as Europe or Australia.
For starters, China does offer backpacker hostels. The Hostel Xi’an in the Shaanxi province has a bar, offers movie nights, Internet access and bike rentals, and also happens to be set in a neighborhood that dates back to the Tang Dynasty.
Shanghai offers several hostels, including the Le Tour Youth Hostel which has a small gym, a cafe, air conditioning and more. The best part about these hostels? Most cost around US$5 a night. You could stay a week at these places for less than what a night in New Zealand, Germany or New York could cost you.
Enjoy the Olympics on TV, and start thinking about how you can see some of the sights in person.