In any case, if you decide to go to China, I would highly recommend a guide. There are lots of college students there - many of whom have spent time in the US - who can help you get around, bargain down prices, and make sure you don't order a whole plate of chicken heads in a restaurant.
These are two of our guides, Francis on the front of the bike, and Yao on the back. They could not have been any better. Fun, funny, and willing to answer any inane question we asked them. And there were plenty.
(**this picture taken by The Brain while riding on the back of our tandem bike... which is another whole post all by itself. I have never ridden a tandem bike before, and while it seems utterly charming, (doesn't it?) it's not.)
What was I talking about? Oh right. Anyway, the people are great! When we were outside the bigger cities, we met a lot of people who were not used to seeing caucasian people.
Then it was fun and flattering.
Then it got a little tedious.
But because we were trying to leave them with a friendly image of Americans, we continued to smile and pose. And hold people's babys. And flash the peace sign - which they call the victory sign.
But it was all fun!
Other Surprises for me were-
*Nobody uses salt in China. Don't get me wrong, I love some good soy sauce, but it doesn't always do the trick. Since I have low blood pressure, sometimes I look for salt in the afternoons to get a little energy going. Thankfully McDonalds has figured out that fries should have SALT, and it became the one place in China where we knew we could get it. I started carrying around salt packets in my purse.
*Speaking of McDonalds - it was also the only place we could get ice. The Chinese don't believe in drinking cold liquid. I defy you to find a drinking fountain in the whole country. (Not that you could drink the water anyway...) but what you will find everywhere is hot water spouts so you can fill up your tea bottle.
* I have a new love for McDonalds. Free bathrooms, ice, and salt. It's the little things.
Here are a couple more things that I thought were different:
Street Sweeper (they were everywhere!)
Delivery Driver (also everywhere)
Holy power lines!
The "Squatty Potty"This is one of the cleaner ones. On the China Potty Rating Scale I would have given it about a 6 out of 10.
I gave an automatic point for each of the following: a door, a lock, a flushing mechanism, toilet paper (not generally supplied - you have to byotp - and you aren't supposed to flush it. Just use the trash can - which you can't see in this picture because it's behind the door), a sink with actual soap that you don't have to dip your hand into, and then the rest of the points would be based on cleanliness.
Most of the bathrooms we used we rated a 3 or 4.
The scary part about these isn't the potty itself, but the slippery floor. I know. But you actually got used to it pretty fast. And no, I never fell in - but I almost did. Once. Or possibly more, but that's not really what we're talking about.
Yes. It was an amazing experience all the way around.
Next Post: Things I Found Endearingly Similar