Some ways in which China differs

After a couple of weeks in China I have noticed quite a few differences between it and other developing countries (we have been to):

  • Hot showers are standard
  • Pork is the top meat (rather than chicken or beef)
  • Public toilets are often open squatters (squat toilets with low partition walls and no door so they are open to all and sundry)
  • They definitely don’t do queuing
  • The sound of hoicking up phlegm and then spitting it out is a constant soundtrack to daily life
  • Trains are fast and reliable
  • Women are seen as often as men doing manual work (in agriulture and construction) and typically male semi-manual jobs such as drivers, conductors
  • The government doesn’t allow non-Chinese to use Internet cafes (luckily, all hostels have connections)
  • English translations (of Chinese characters) are extremely rare which makes it difficult when map reading, trying to catch the right bus and ordering food
  • Chinese tourists far outnumbers foreigners everywhere we have been
  • Everywhere you look roads are being upgraded and buildings improved
  • It’s hard to see actual countryside as the whole country is fairly built up and houses with several stories are common even in remote areas
  • There is constant haze/pollution in the air so everything looks a little grey
  • There are no coins (instead they have tiny notes which are worth the equivalent of less than 1p)
  • Bicycles are more popular than mopeds
  • Their concept of acceptable noise levels is much higher than ours, be it speaking on mobiles, having conversations (it often sounds like an argument)
  • Motorways are common
  • The hand signals you would normal use to convey numbers (ie. holding up fingers) are completely different for six to ten (which makes it hard when asking about prices as our Mandarin is non-existent)
  • Hardly any familiar Western brands are represented (with the exception of McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Starbucks)
  • There are tonnes of massive local brands which have no presence in the West
  • The popular tourist sights have been overdeveloped, e.g. in the middle of amazing rice terraces there is a massive three storey viewing complex
  • You see huge factories and signs of heavy industry
  • Some areas of the country are restricted to tourists and you are have to travel with a tour (particularly Tibet)
  • Many restaurants have no menu. Instead all the produce is displayed in a see-through fridge and you point at what you want and the chef cooks it up
  • You can’t buy deodorant
  • Conurbations are on a huge scale: a village in equals a town, town = city, city = metropolis
  • Irrigation channels are common throughout the countryside
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One Comment Add yours

  1. Sophie Wong says:

    Good observations :)
    The phlegm thing I find is the most disgusting habit. It drives me up the wall especially when you are trying to sleep and then when you wake up it’s also the first thing you hear.
    I try not to use public loos too much . There’s also KFC too in China .

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