5 months ago I would never have believed that I would visit China. Although Hubby and I like to travel and have been to Europe a couple of times, China was not on my radar as a destination. But then an acquaintance who had already booked the trip mentioned that she and another friend were going and she didn’t have a roommate. Asked if I would be interested in going. Uumm Yeah! Hubby (jealously) said go! And so I did.
It was a fabulous trip. Saw the Forbidden City, Walked on the Great Wall. Saw the Terra Cotta Soldiers. And on and on. Here is a list of 5 things I learned while I was traveling in China. (Pretty sure this is not a list you would expect!)
Pushing and Shoveling is not considered impolite
With a population of almost 1.5 billion, anywhere you go there are a lot of people trying to get to the same place. Personal space is non-existent and crowds are a given. If you want to see something you better squeeze in. If you wait patiently for someone to make room for you, you’ll be SOL. The advantage of being an American is you may be taller than a large part of the group so at least you may be able to see over. Otherwise, elbows up!
Ordering Water Won’t get you what you think
You would think that in a country as Westernized as China has become that drinking water would not be a problem however, that is not the case. The Chinese do not treat their water. One explanation we were given is that they don’t want to add chemicals to the water. Another explanation is that, with the number of people and the building boom in the last 20 years, the infastructure is not such that it can support water treatment. In either case, don’t drink the tap water although we were also told that it was ok to use it to brush your teeth. Of course, nobody who hears that is going to take the chance except that eventually, half awake, you will forget and then panic. It’s ok. Nobody got sick.
So what do you do about drinking water? Most of the hotels gave us bottled water (2 per day) and the water is drinkable after being boiled. Every hotel room had a pot to heat water and, if you order water in a restaurant, you may very well get a cup of hot rather than bottled water.
The bathrooms in China are, to say the least, interesting. The first time you use one is a bit of a shock. Most of the stalls, if you are not in a hotel or restaurant that caters to westerners, are “squatters.” Imagine being a 60+ American woman walking into a bathroom stall to see a porcelein “hole” in the floor. Oh crap…
The first question you ask yourself is “which way do I face?” Then “where do I put my feet?” Your next thought is “Lord, please let me hit the hole!” And last, “where’s the toilet paper?” The answer is “NOT IN THE STALL.” AAAAHHH! Typically there is a roll of paper as you walk in to the bathroom. You have to grab it before you enter the stall…Oh crap…
Bring tissue. Everywhere…
You are a Tourist Attraction
Be prepared to have your picture taken. Everywhere we went we had our pictures taken. Sometimes people just pointed their phones in our direction and fired away but often, they would ask to have their pictures taken with us. We were frequently handed children (not something that would happen in the US) so mom or dad could take their picture with an American.
Don’t Hit Permenantly Delete If you can’t see what you are doing
This lesson was learned the hard way. Make sure you have plenty of room on your camera or phone to take pictures. I ran out of room about 7 days in. We were outside and I was trying to delete some graphics that were stored on my phone and, to actually make room you have to empty the trash. At some point I must have backed up one too many screens and, instead of deleting the graphics, I deleted everything I had stored on my phone. It was a bright sunny day and I was standing in the shade squinting at the screen to see what I was doing. When you respond yes to the question “do you want to delete these permanently?” you loose. everything. permanently.
Note to self: check and see if anybody has any pictures they are willing to send me.
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