What’s are the biggest culture shocks when traveling or living in China?

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Ten Things That Will Shock You About Visiting China

Greetings from Beijing, China! Today we have the ten things that will shock tourists about Chinese culture. These things will be particularly shocking for Westerners in China for the first time.

Chinese Culture Shock #1 Toilets in China

Most of the time, the toilets in China will be a hole in the ground, some fancier holes than others. Be prepared to squat over the hole. For women, wearing dresses or skirts makes this easier. Also, there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom stalls. You’ll need to bring your own, or sometimes there is toilet paper when you enter the bathroom, so be sure to grab some before entering a stall. When you do enter the stall, there’s usually a step up, so watch out for that and make sure you don’t trip and fall into the toilet.

Chinese Culture Shock #2 Spitting

You will be shocked at how much people spit in China. And it’s not just a quiet little spit, it’s a loud gargling, hacking kind of spitting. There is so much air pollution in China, it causes people to spit and clear their throat very often. You’ll probably even find yourself spitting when in China. It’s not just on the streets, you’ll hear it on the train or in the Metro as well.

Chinese Culture Shock #3 Smog & Air Pollution

You might luck out and have a beautiful, blue-sky day in China, but chances are, you’ll also experience brown smog that cloaks everything in sight on some days, especially in the larger cities. You will be shocked at how bad the smog can be in China. Even in the countryside, smog is a real problem, and the air quality can be really poor. Grab a breathing mask before you head to China if you have any breathing issues.

Chinese Culture Shock #4 Food in China

You may be shocked at the things eaten in China. You can get donkey meat, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, and just so you know, if you see a restaurant and it has a pictures of Shrek… it probably sells donkey. Mountain lion meat and turtle soup are also unique foods served in some restaurants in China (though those are harder to find). These aren’t necessarily on every menu, but you might see them occasionally. Sometimes, we would just point and say, that look’s good and just enjoy what we had without knowing what we ate. I mean who doesn’t like jello with gummy bears in it?

Chinese Culture Shock #5 Lines or Lack Thereof

With so many people in China, there’s not really a concept of queuing up. Whether you’re boarding a train or an elevator, there’s no order to boarding or disembarking. It’s all just a mad rush of people in every direction. If you are in line for something, don’t leave any space in front of you. Get right up on the person in front of you, or the space will be filled by someone else.

Chinese Culture Shock #6 Amount of People

There are 1.5 Billion Chinese people in China. There are people everywhere. There are five Chinese people for every one American person, so picture every place you go, with five times as many people. You will be shocked at the volume of people, between pedestrians, cars, bikes and rickshaws. It’s a unique feeling because you will pretty much never be alone in China, however with all those people it’s still very safe to visit China with little crime.

Chinese Culture Shock #7 Love for Western Kids

If you visit China with kids, you’ll be shocked at how much they love Western babies and children. Prepare to have your kids’ pictures taken dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. For whatever reason, Chinese people love to take pictures of and with Western kids. We spent about 45 minutes everyday taking pictures with people who would come up to ask to take pictures with the kids. And even a few times they came up to take a picture with me while they rubbed my belly.

Chinese Culture Shock #8 Traffic & Driving

The traffic in China will shock you. There’s no order to the traffic either it seems, with cars, buses and rickshaws going in every direction You have to be on high alert anytime you are crossing the street. The best way to do this is to follow a crowd of local people and cross when they cross. Cars and buses won’t stop for you, so you have to keep looking, even as you are crossing the street. Be careful!

Chinese Culture Shock #9 Kids Peeing & Pooping in the Street

You will be shocked when you see little kids peeing and pooping right in the streets in China. Kids will even have little slits in the back of their pants so they can squat in the street to take a dump. Now, this is just really little kids, but the first time you see it it can be a bit surprising. Ask Caleb about the Cheetos orange poop he saw a good do at the Forbidden City in Beijing. Sometimes the parents pick it up, sometimes they don’t. This is less common in large cities like Shanghai and Beijing, but it becomes more common as you get into the more rural areas.

Chinese Culture Shock #10 Friendly People

You will be shocked at how friendly and helpful the Chinese people are. Even if they don’t speak English, they’ll still try to help you out, and try to get you where you need to go. It’s one of the best hidden secrets about China.

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