A Travellerspoint blog

You Know You're in China When...

"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable" - Clifton Fadiman

sunny 0 °F

When packing for a trip abroad, you might as well leave the comfort zone behind. Life in a foreign country ensures the exotic will spring from even the most mundane activities.

Below is a compilation of daily novelties which have colored our experience in southern China so far.

1.) Clothes dryers do not exist, only clothes lines.
2.) Children greet your face with either open-mouthed awe or open-mouthed terror.
3.) B.Y.O.T.P (bring your own toilet paper) is an unspoken rule, because public bathrooms won't have it.
4.) Umbrellas pop up everywhere, rain or shine.
5.) Water coolers take the place of water fountains.
6.) The supermarket includes a magnetized escalator ramp (when you wheel your cart onto it, the wheels magnetize to the ramp - ensuring a safe-non-cart-toppling journey).
7.) Your washing machine greets you with a cheery version of "Jingle Bells" when you press "start."
8.) The shaving cream you purchased has a scent remarkably akin to lime sherbert.
9.) Local drink stands sells delicious, fresh drinks for the equivalent of 50 cents.
10.) The iced drink you ordered arrives at your table...with the ice already melted.
11.) Your employee information form includes questions about your use of birth control (whether you use it & how often).
12.) Quality time with coworkers means an evening spent singing at a KTV (karaoke joint).
13.) When ordering a class of water, don't expect it to be iced or even cold - most likely it'll still be boiling.
14.) A honk from behind you on a sidewalk is a signal to either move or be run down by a : bike, scooter, bike-driven hackney or car.
15.) Items at the local shopping plaza are either purposefully overpriced or not priced at all, because bartering is both expected & encouraged.
16.) The beauty aisle at the local supermarket includes "skin whitening" products (whereas, in America, shelves are stocked with tanning products).
17.) Your foreign face causes a riot wherever you go (supermarket, post office, restaurant, bathroom...). People stop to stare, take a photo, or nearly wreck their scooters while struggling to a get a look.
18.) A two-seat scooter can seat as many as 5 people at a time (plus a dog, potted plant, or package of toilet paper).
19.) The overflow from your water heater drips into a bucket.
20.) Dvds sell for about 50 cents each.
21.) Every time you successfully complete a barter, you wonder who got ripped off in the end (you or the vendor).
22.) Splurging on a meal means spending $3 - $7.
23.) Smacking & slurping loudly while eating is not rude.
24.) Meat is rarely de-boned (eat slow & carefully).
25.) Buffalo wings are eaten with chopsticks (quite a feat).
26.) Most restaurant meals are eaten in a family-dinner style. Dishes are set in the middle of the table & shared by everyone present.
27.) Meat dishes often include the animal's head.
28.) Central air conditiong & heating don't exist.
29.) Incorrect English appears everywhere (especially on t-shirts, buildings, & notebooks).
30.) Cough drops are found in the candy aisle.
31.) You don't know what you've been served, but you eat it anyways.
32.) Drivers flash their brights to signal, "I'm not stopping, stay out of the way."
33.) Mob dance sessions are the norm each evening, where hundreds of people meet to perform synchronized dancing in various outdoor venues.
34.) Following traffic rules WILL get you into an accident.
35.) Most of the webpages you try to visit are blocked.
36.) Your kitchen appliances include a water-boiling device, for making tap water drinkable.

At the local shopping plaza

At the local shopping plaza



Local coffee shop

Local coffee shop


Posted by rovingduo 07:07 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad

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These are great!!
Abby would love #33, I admit I would too.
Love you and miss you!!!!

by Eva Husky

How do keep cool without ac and either take your own tp or wait till you get home.thanks for your interesting list about how different it is in china. Love you, mom

by sherri jones

It's amazing how seemingly unimportant, everday things can inspire a list like this one. These sorts of differences are what make travelling truly unique & interesting.

Actually, we do have ac here - in our apartment and at work as well. However, rather than central ac, each room has a small wall unit that's turned on by a remote. But, as soon one steps beyond the ac safety zone, the heat is overwhelming - which is why most people carry around umbrellas for shade.

As for the tp situation, everyone carries around little packets of multi-purpose tissue.

You know you're in Chian when...
37.) Cds are used as reflective devices on the back of scooters & bicycles.

38.) You have a migraine at work & the nurse has you drink a warm, tea-hued beverage. Then, she treats you with "Fengyoujing" (Golden Dragon Medicated Oil), which she rubs onto her fingers & massages onto your temples & over your lymph nodes. The oil, which has a green tint, smells like peppermint & can be used for various ailments: headache, mosquito bites, bruises, minor backaches, arthritis.

by rovingduo

That is so great that you wrote those down. It gives us an idea of how different China really is. Keep posting!

by Beth Husky

Love this post. I was studying in Beijing for 3 months and post brought back lovely memories! =)

by Emily

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