Before coming to China I heard many stereotypes about the Chinese that exist in the minds of the people that haven’t been here yet… but seeing the culture with my own eyes, made me doubt about them. Their mentality definitely is different, but hey, traveling without a cultural shock is boring 🙂 , so here is my “Cultural shocker list“ of some things and habits that are not so usual for my country:
- clothes drying… they hang them on a clothes hanger in front of the window. Because of the humidity here, it takes some time for the clothes to dry, so I help myself by pressing the fast forward button on the air condition (meaning setting it to 30 degrees to speed up the drying process). To have some Christmas feeling in December I hang my panties and socks on a hanger in the room and wallah I have some Christmas spirit with my pantie tree 😀 .
- traffic… is totally chaotic and noisy… crossing the street is on advanced level, since you have to look not just to the right and left, but also forward, backward and diagonal, because it comes from everywhere. The interesting thing is that even in this chaos, they manage to have some sort of order that functions. Probably is because they drive so slow, so they have time to avoid crashes. I almost forgot to mention: don’t bother bringing your driving license with you if it is not Chinese, it’s not valid here.
- electric scooters… they are like silent farts… you don’t see them coming, but then “bam“ it hits you.
- WeChat… it’s China’s answer to WhatsApp. Google products,
Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and some other sites are taboo here, so you can’t access them without having a VPN. So they made Chinese versions of those Apps, but if you have an Android you should download them before coming to China, because here your Android Playstore won’t play 😛 . Everybody here has WeChat, so this is a must to get connected with people here. The interesting part of WeChat is that it’s also a paying App, so yeah, they don’t use cash, they use WeChat.
- Chinese siesta… after lunch time, which is around 12 o’clock, they go napping for one hour. Because they don’t drink coffee, they’re not tricking the biorhythm. How does this look? They nap in the office, street, home… well everywhere 🙂 .
- the orientation is a bit more confusing, since I don’t notice the difference between buildings, so I try to create a map in my head from places I have been and try to remember them. One evening while returning back from the center I turned one street too early from the main road, because the street looked identical as mine and landed at 1.30 a.m. on a massage street… it took me 30 minutes to figure out the way back home (okay, maybe I wasn’t totally sober 😛 ). At the town center are some foreign companies such as Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, which make a good orientation point, since you can actually read the name.
- the psychology of crowd dynamics on the streets… in the West people move like sheep, so if one person starts moving to the left on a pedestrian sidewalk, then the others will follow and soon the majority of people will move to the left as well. But in China… walking down the streets feels like slalom. If somebody is walking towards you, you SHOULD MOVE if you don’t want to bump into somebody.
- plastic… China is plastic-fantastic land. Everything is put into plastic and even when you buy something its packed Russian babushka way, to get to the actual product, you will need to dig.
- average hight… of women is about 160 cm and men 175 cm, so I feel like an amazon here 🙂 . I am so tall that I need to kneel down a little to be able to see my whole body in the mirror.
- population of China… with 1.41 billion it has the largest population in the world. When I am listening to students talking about cities with more million people, I start to feel as a rare species. Coming from a country with a total population of 2 million people, I just can’t imagine, how can so many million people live just in one city.
- taking photos of and with you… as a foreigner you are a special creature here, so be prepared to smile into a camera for native strangers. It is a bit annoying and awkward, but try to take it with humor. When I went cycling with my French friend to Moon Hill to check the transformers in the village beneath the hill, we got stuck for some minutes, because there was a Chinese crowd that surrounded us and started to take pictures with us… My smile was going from fake to mega fake…
- and of course there is the spitting… you hear it everywhere you go, done by everybody. The only thing you can do is to get used to the sound, because it won’t get better.
Once you get used to their way of living and adjust to it, it gets easier. But what I really love about China is that once you think you’ve seen everything here, you get a surprise. Like one day walking down the West street and talking to foreign friends and then suddenly seeing a guy driving his motorbike into a hotel and parking it behind the reception… and then you just stop talking and think WTF.