China was a revelation to us. We were surprised both by the good and the bad. We never expected the people to be so friendly nor the air to be so dirty. The country is racing headlong into the 21st century, trying to make up for centuries of isolation and decades of communism. As a result, the people do not share many of the customs of the developed world and the landscape is suffering from the effects of rapid, rampant industrialization. It took us a while to get used to the constant spitting and smoking and the grime, but we’d never let them stand in the way of discovering all this fascinating country has to offer. Here are the top 6 things we learned while traveling the country:
1. A big family is a happy family. It must be because the first thing all the Chinese people say to us, after establishing that all four children actually belong to us, is “What a happy family.”
2. Breathing is good. We are much happier and healthier when we get to. Too bad the Chinese don’t very often given the smog levels and dedication to smoking.
3. Do not travel between cities on Saturdays or Sundays, also known to the Chinese as holidays. Cabs won’t pick you up and if they do, only for an inflated rate. Train stations, bus stations, and city streets are packed with people and everything is more difficult.
4. As if there were any doubt in our minds already, public spitting, nose blowing, and loogie hawking is disgusting. (Almost EVERYONE does it.)
5. Hostels can be fun and only sometimes are disgusting. Even when they are, the other travelers you meet help diminish the pain and prove a valuable source of information.
6. If you’re going to ride a city bus, wear your crummy pants, because they might well get razored.