Users of this forum might be interested to know what visiting China is
like. Other than the surprising, futuristic skyscrapers that stand out,
China is still a dirty, backwards, poor third world country where most
everything Western countries have like cleanliness, quality, ethics,
freedom, comfort, wealth, safety, justice,
prayer, creativity, education, fashion, diversity, good healthcare, space,
or politeness is not easily available. Most first time China visitors think they have
stepped into the future when they arrive until some retard wearing a dirty suit and slippers squatting next to a
tricycle shouts “Hello!” and giggles. Visitors are
quickly jerked back to reality that they are not in Kansas anymore when
they realize that they have instead fallen into a time warp back to 1900.
Foreigners can live here for years and never adjust. If you are
traveling to China, here are some observations and weird facts to be
aware of to lessen the cultural shock:
- China is dirty. People eat from the same dish using the chopsticks
they are eating with. Littering and spitting is common. The air quality
is very poor due to non-existent or unenforced pollution laws. Kids
often don’t have diapers and parents whistle to encourage them to pee on
the street or on the floor of stores. People here often don’t wear or
use dental floss, mouthwash, deodorant, perfume, cologne, makeup, nail
polish, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, hairspray, earrings, jewelry,
rings, bracelets, or necklaces. Some people have lice or go six months
without taking a bath in the winter because they have no hot water. Most
women don’t shave their underarms and some use cloth instead of tampons. Many men don’t shave and grow long pinky
fingernails to clean their ears. Toilet paper is used for napkins and toilets don’t have toilet
paper or soap. Toilets are often squat toilets. Vomiting in public is
commonplace. People cover their noses instead of cleaning up the
Just about everything in life is or was once banned here within the
last 50 years including education, books, democracy, capitalism,
personal property, free speech, protests, religion, superstitions, free
movement, pets, puppets, movies, long hair, baseball, rock music,
psychologists, Disney, art, premarital sex, flunkyism, splittism,
flowers, sending newspapers abroad, UFO associations, gambling, world record attempts, smoking, cooking at home,
cosmetics, prostitution, footbinding, opium, guns, story-telling, opera, theatre, concerts, acupuncture, Confucisism,
feng shui, dresses, rickshaws, golf, jewelry, martial arts, politeness, and mahjong. In just 10 short years, 5000 years
of Chinese history, relics, temples, paintings, buildings, palaces, books, and art were destroyed. Now China is only
left with poor rebuilt copies of the past and basic, ugly tile buildings. Life in China was grey, drab, and dreary.
Today, Hong Kong and Taiwan are more Chinese in some ways than mainland China.
Some things that were good in China are bad now and what was once bad is now good. Warning of a possible
overpopulation problem, for example, lead to prison for one person and warning of SARS lead to prison for
another man. Both were found to be correct and policies were reversed.
Mental health treatment is not encouraged or popular here. There are
very few psychiatrists or Western drugs available for the mentally ill.
This may be one reason China leads the world in suicides. Alcoholics
Anonymous is also nearly unknown here.
China has a strict one child policy where women are forced to have
abortions and be sterilized if the have more than one child. Since there
is very public welfare and sons traditionally care for the parents,
daughters are aborted or abandoned in favor of sons. China is predicted
to have 60 million more men than women by 2014. Sadly, sex education and birth control pills are very uncommon here.
- Chinese people eat almost every kind of food including snakes, worms,
eels, dogs, cats, squid, and all parts of animals like chicken feet,
duck lungs, pig brains, and fish heads. Even human meat has been
consumed here. Ironically, however, most Chinese dislike cheese.
Restaurants often have live birds or fish outside for customers to
choose from. Seeing wildlife like birds, squirrels, and pigeons is rare
because everything gets eaten in China. Chinese generally don’t like nonsteamed bread unless it is
sweetened bread or has weird toppings like dried pork. Most Chinese people hate uncooked food like sushi or
salads and don’t know how to eat with a fork and knife. Meat is cut into small pieces before cooking and the bones
are usually included in the dish. Diners spit the bones onto the table
Rudeness in China is well-known. Cutting in line, staring, not
holding doors, not saying “thank you”, “sorry”, or “excuse me”, or
shouting “Hello!” or “Laowai!” to foreigners is common.
Many Chinese guys look like gay nerds because they are super thin,
short, out of shape, don’t comb their hair, carry purses, and put their arms around other guys. There are few
joggers or weightlifters in China. Ping Pong is one of the most popular sports here.
The huge population of China and poor business practices means stores are overstaffed to keep the population
employed. Most stores have an employee stationed on every aisle to watch customers shop.
Corruption is common due to a lack of ethics in China. Chinese
people are generally much more individualistic than countries like Japan.
Ironically in a country founded for the workers, labor protests are
Some Chinese people are so brainwashed that they are grateful to the government for restoring their rights to
start a business.
Owning a car is rare here. Only 1 out of 100 Chinese people own a
car compared to 75 out of 100 Americans who own a car.
Houses in China may not be very comfortable, but they are secure and easy to maintain. Many windows are
covered with burglar bars. Windows are often opened in the winter or don’t have screens or glass. Many businesses
have no doors even in the winter. Buildings are often
unheated in the winter. Many buildings and neigborhoods are surrounded
by concrete fences and have security guards.
Homes in China that have carpet are practically unknown. Buildings
are fire-proof, wind-resistant, and don’t need painting because they are concrete and covered in tile. Few homes
have yards to be cut. Homes do not have closets or basements.
The annual per capita income of China is US$5600 compared to US$40,000 for the USA.
Only 5% of Chinese have a college degree compared to 25% of
- 500 million Chinese have never brushed their teeth.
Counterfeiting is rampant in China due to low creativity. How many
Japanese, German, or American brands are there? How many Chinese brands can you think of? Items like sawdust are too often
used in goods like fake milk powder or fertilizer. Even cars are copied.
Elevators are rare in China since buildings less that nine stories
tall are not required to have them.
Chinese made products in China have very low quality. Expect
products like umbrellas, nail clippers, belts, shoes, coats, shirts,
pens, lighters, furniture, watches, surge protectors, washing machines,
speakers, clocks, batteries, pants, necklaces to not fit or to to fall
apart in less than six months. Stores do not have return policies.
Physical fights are more common here.
Furniture is very uncomfortable. Beds, stools, and sofas are often
little more than wooden planks with no pillows.
Buses are often overcrowded here. Most buses have ticket takers and barf bags.
Male smokers are very common. Smoking is considered healthy. Smoking is even allowed in hospitals.
Public welfare is very scanty. Private domestic and international
charities are very rare in China. Many crippled beggars and old people
beg on the street, as a result. Seeing handicapped people in wheelchairs
or scooters is uncommon.
Chinese people seem to be able to sleep everywhere and anytime
including during the day at work.
Small store owners in China often bring their children to work with
Free speech is not encouraged in China. Many websites are censored.
Prostitution is illegal, but commonplace. Streetwalkers operate
openly in many places. Hairdresser and massage businesses are often open 24 hours and are actually brothels. Pornography
is also banned.
Around 30 million people in China were killed or starved to death
during the Cultural Revolution.
Traffic is dangerous in China. More people die in China on the roads
than anywhere else in the world even though there are a lot less cars
here than in the USA. Running red lights and driving on the wrong side
of the road or the sidewalk is commonplace. Pedestrians do not have the right of way.
Many Chinese live in company dorms and have no hobbies. Crowds of
people watching TV outside of some stores at night is a common sight.
China leads the world in executions.
Torture is sometimes used to obtain confessions.
Many people have mobile phones. Mobile phones are pay as you go.
Many Chinese like to squat instead of sitting to rest. Chinese hate
sitting on the floor and often use newspapers if sitting outside.
There are few lawyers and lawsuits in China.
Common products like the following are very difficult to find in
Parsley/oregano/paprika/dry mustard/cumin/basil/thyme/dill weed/celery
salt/rosemary/peppercorns/cinnamon/garlic salt/tarragon/onion powder/cilantro
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Shrimp cocktail sauce
Easter egg dye
Ice cream cones
Canned pineapple/prune juice
Hot dog buns
Au gratin potatoes
Birth control pills
Campbell’s chicken noodle soup
Macaroni and cheese
Pulp-free orange juice
Angel food/Carrot cake
Peanut butter/Chocolate chip cookies
Lettuce, butter, cereal, raisins, fresh milk, and cheese are very
difficult to find here. Many of the above items may be available in Asia,
but the brand may be not be very good or the price will be very high.
Maybe some of these items are seasonal or can be bought in large cities
like HK, but it’s still amazing how such common and simple products are
so difficult (impossible?) to find here. Many Chinese just don’t realize
how deprived they are. People looking for dried fish, cooking oil,
noodles, rice, soy sauce, or 50 kinds of tea, will find China to be heaven. Other
people may find Zhongguo to be a bit boring after a while. Eating rice,
noodles, and dumplings everyday gets old quick. Overseas Chinese are
lucky that they can go to the local Chinatown if they get a little
homesick when they are abroad. Too bad foreigners can’t have the best of China and the best of their home
countries, too. At least saving money
is easy since most things are cheap and there’s not many good things to
Although foreigners in China probably won’t miss these items if they are
just coming here for a little two week holiday, those who plan to stay
longer should consider having someone send them care packages or packing an extra large suitcase.
The few imported goods already in China are just a drop in a bucket.
Pepsi, Coke, KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonald’s are fine, but it would be
nice to have Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, German, Greek, and Indian food, Italian Garden, Wendy’s, Bonanza,
Long John Silver’s, and Taco Time, too. China has been cut off from the rest of the world for years
and they don’t know what they’ve been missing.
Fashion sense is a often muddled here. People often wear dark socks
with shorts or white socks with suits or two-piece suits to do
construction work or pajamas to go shopping. Many people only have one
or two sets of clothes to wear everyday. Men usually wear dress pants
and rarely wear jeans. Men often roll up their pant legs and shirts if
it is hot outside.
English is rarely spoken or spoken poorly here, but many Chinese
will try to speak English even if foreigners speak Mandarin. There are
also almost no English books or magazines here.
There are few foreigners in China.
Hot water and heaters are hard to find.
Electricity, water, and Internet services may often have outages.
Ice and tap water are usually unsafe. Ice is rarely used.
Western medicine is very difficult to find and medicine is often
fake here. Antibiotics are over-used here. IV drips are popular for
treatments. Prescriptions are not required in China.
China seems advanced in some ways and behind in others. For example, China still uses oxen to plow, yet has
DVD players and telephone cards.
China has bullet trains, but the stewardesses and nurses wear uniforms
from the 1960’s. John Denver, The Carpenters, Micheal Bolton, Celine
Dion, and Whitney Houston are very popular here.
Visitors should also be aware that China has many pickpockets.
Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and many other cities have gangs that wait on busy
corners and target unaware people with bags. Be careful!
China is very noisy due to population density.
Many grown men ride tricycles in China. Bulky goods like queen-sized
beds, refrigerators, and televisions are often transported on bicycles.
Very few people have a driver’s license and U-haul and Ryder don’t
exist here. Occasionally it’s possible to see five or six people on one
Carjackings, illegal drugs, food handling inspections, and
background checks are NOT common in China.
There is no drinking age enforced in China.
Hotels usually don’t have keys. Guests must ask workers to let them
into their rooms.
Odd crimes such as kidnapping groups of women to be sold as wives or
crippling children to be used for begging happen here regularly.
Many Chinese cannot swim. Women wear conservative swimming suits from the 1950’s and men prefer to wear speedos.
Playing badminton outside in parking lots with no nets is popular
Most delivery trucks are blue for some reason.
Chinese people do not have many good places to invest their money
since land ownership is prohibited, many banks pay very low interest
rates and are unstable due to bad loans based on government connections
instead of risk and reward calculations, and investing in the stock
market is risky due to poor accounting practices.
Some doors are too short for many foreigners.
China is very poor. Some people don’t have enough to eat and rarely
eat meat or fruit,
never had toys, cameras, lawnmowers, or bikes. Many homes have a dirt
floor and no running water or
electricity. Many people had to share a single public bathroom.
Chinese people needed permission to travel and obtaining passports
was once difficult. Chinese people often go sightseeing in groups with
their companies or schools. Foreigners could not visit China easily and
still need to stay in foreigner approved hotels due to government
Until very recently, Chinese people needed permission from their
employer to get married.
The government once assigned work to everyone and Chinese people
were not allowed to choose their jobs.
Chinese people prefer hot drinks to cold drinks and drink much more
tea than coffee. Drinking anything other than alcohol or tea at meals is
not very common.
Chinese people are generally very reserved and do not hug and kiss
family members or strangers much.
Tipping is not expected in China.
There are almost no big box chain stores like Target, OfficeMax,
BestBuy, PetsMart, ToysRUs, Pep Boys, or HomeDepot in China. Parking
lots in China are small and always have a parking lot attendant. Drive-thru windows or drive-ins are almost unknown.
Construction workers live in the building they are building or on-site
in temporary dorms. Construction sites are surrounding by temporary
brick walls instead of wooden or chain link fences. Scaffolds are made
of bamboo and covered with green netting. Construction workers sometimes wear flip-flops instead of steel-toed
safety boots and don’t often wear hard hats. Items being welded or soldered on the street are not covered.
Construction is done 24 hours/7 days a week here. Highways and skyscrapers can be built in six months.
Chinese people are very patriotic.
China is mostly a cash-based society. Checks are not used very often
and the personal lending industry is very undeveloped.
Auto parts stores, laundromats, fire trucks, sirens, funeral homes,
car rental agencies, vacuum cleaners, greeting cards, car stereos, ovens,
limousines, and pawn shops are also very rare here.
Gasoline prices are cheap here because the price is fixed by the
Soap operas set in ancient China are constantly on TV.
Workers in most restaurants don’t wear hats. Cooks sometimes smoke while cooking.
Barbers in China do not seem to soak their combs and scissors in
Bathrooms do not have baths or shower curtains. Water from showers falls on the floor.
Many businesses, including banks, are open everyday.
Wiring or taking a lot money out of China is difficult. Converting
RMB to other currencies is also usually difficult.
China’s currency is set by the government and not the free market.
People go to the hospital for even minor illnesses like colds.
Appointments are not needed to see a doctor or dentist.
Many banks require customers to take a number instead of waiting in
Most people in cities live in apartment buildings, not houses.
Babysitters are not popular in China because grandparents usually
take care of children.
Women use umbrellas on sunny days and skin whitening lotion because they hate dark skin and don’t want to
look like farmers.
Bras are small and usually padded here.
Most city streets have street sweepers.
Holidays like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and St.
Patrick’s Day are not celebrated here.
Wedding rings are not popular here and wives do not change their
Phone books are not free here and not many people use them.
Not many people get a lot of mail here.
There are few movie theatres.
Outdoor meat markets don’t have refrigeration. China has very few
buffets and they don’t have sneeze guards.
Political correctness, religious sensitivity, and knowledge is not
common in China. Racist ignorance also exists. Sexual harassment is also
accepted. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age,
handicap, or national origin is legal in China.
Cheap plastic chairs are used in many restaurants.
Since China has many mountains and limited space, many mountains are
moved to the sea.
Eating sugarcane and bamboo is popular here.
Statistics are not very reliable.
Girls like to wear frilly clothes.
Many street corners do not have stop signs.
Chinese people are usually punctual.
Chinese people just push other people’s shopping carts out of the
way instead of saying “excuse me” and look into foreigner’s carts and
There are less sales/income/property tax hassles here.
Payphones use only cards instead of coins.
The news reporting is more upbeat here.
The divorce rate is lower in China than the USA.
There is less personal debt in China compared to the US.
Public transportation is cheap, widespread, and frequent.
There are no classic cars, mobile homes, or RV’s in China.
Many similar stores are located in the same area in some cities.
Groups of hardware stores may be next to other hardware stores, shoe
stores may be next to other shoe stores, and computer stores may be next to other computer stores.
Chinese-owned Western restaurants mostly offer unrecognizable
Western food. Pizza may be topped with lettuce, salads may have potato
slices, and tuna salad may use radishes.
Private doctors are rare. Doctors have low education. Patients will
not be treated without money.
Chinese chocolate tastes like wax.
There are no newspaper vending machines here.
Memorizing is used more than creative thought in schools.
Philosophy or psychology courses are rarely offered in schools.
Clothes sizes are not standardized.
Some cities ban the sale of motorcycles.
Sleeper buses with beds are used on some long-distance routes.
Makeup in movies is poorly done.
Restaurants usually only give out one menu per table.
Frozen food is not commonly sold.
Buildings are often demolished with sledgehammers.
Bus/airline/train tickets are the same price even if not purchased
Few homes have pictures on the wall or books.
66% of Chinese live on farms while only 2% of Americans live on farms.
Grocery stores have small shopping carts.
School students wear school uniforms.
The Chinese government owns most of the major companies in China including
airlines, electric companies, telephone companies, and oil companies.
China doesn’t have proms, homecoming queens, or marching bands.
The best things about China are the weather in Hainan, the thin girls,
booming economy, and the cheap prices, but as a result of Communist
policies, the USA leads China in almost everything despite having only a
fraction of China’s population. China trails the US in railroads, roads,
hotels, income, GDP, life expectancy, cars, religious freedom, human
rights, free speech, Ph.D’s, airplanes, democracy, mental health
treatment, science, dentists, charities, health care, credit bureaus,
insurance, credit cards, mutual funds, ski resorts, and comedy clubs. No
wonder why so many Chinese want to emigrate to the USA. If you live in
a free, developed country, thank your lucky stars.