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The People's Republic of China

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I first entered China from the south, on foot, through the Portuguese colony of Macau, not far from Hong Kong. It was only 15 years ago, but even then, my blonde friend Cheryl and I caused a stir as we walked the streets. Tall and white, we were a novelty. Children followed us and shyly let it be known they wanted to touch Cheryl's hair. Our every move, gesture and expression was watched. Not that things Western were totally foreign -- I heard Michael Jackson blaring from a tape deck in a makeshift beauty parlor.

Who could have known how quickly China and the U.S. would become so friendly? Or that both Macau and Hong Kong would revert to Chinese control peacefully?

Today, we take you inside the People's Republic of China. If you haven't thought about visiting the world's most populous country, the next hour may fire you up. If you've been itching to visit, the sounds we brought back may make you book a flight. How tourist friendly is China nowadays? Should you visit alone or on a tour? In the next hour, we'll give you a feel for traveling in China as well as some tips, like where to find old jazz in the new Shanghai. Tray tables up, please, as we head across the Pacific.

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