I first travelled to China in 2003. I was a 13 year old girl who's knowledge of China didn’t go much beyond fortune cookies and the Chinese buffet my family would go to every Sunday.
But that year many things changed for our family - my dad got a job in China and was going to work as an expert on environmental protection for a Chinese company.
As many other foreigners visiting the country for the first time, I was both fascinated and shocked by the Chinese culture. Here are some of the things that may come to You as a surprise during Your trip to China:
1. Squat toilets
Typical toilets in China are “holes in the ground”, so-called squat toilets. From the Chinese perspective, they are considered to be cleaner and more convenient that sitting toilets commonly used in the West.
2. Open Crotch Pants
This is China's Environmentally Friendly Non-Diaper, which means you will probably see a mother letting her little kid pee in public, whether it's on a busy shopping street or the train station…
3. China’s Pajama Fashion
PJ’s are the outfit of choice for many Chinese. It’s nothing inappropriate, but rather a practical apparel for both old and young, worn for a stroll in the park or to the market.
4. Nap Time!
The lunch break, which is around noon-2 pm, is a holy time for the Chinese when everyone deserves to rest. Naps are taken at the place of work, and the typical Chinese person won’t care much about the surroundings.
5. Weird Translations
With the good intention of providing English translations, sometimes they can be very funny and at the same time confusing.
6. Modes of Transportation
Pretty much anything can be transported in China and the way it is often done can be really inspirational but would undoubtedly fail the safety standards of the West!
Don’t be surprised if you see or hear a person loudly spitting on streets in China. While the government has launched many campaigns to improve public manners, spitting and other bad habits such as queue jumping and littering are still a common sight.
8. Anti-pollution Masks
Air Pollution is China’s major environmental and public health problem. It has affected the life of Chinese people to such an extent, that outdoor activity is often planned depending on the level of the PM2.5 Air Quality Index.
In fact, smog has gotten so bad that in some areas, it’s equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.
With more and more people aware of the health impacts of air pollution, wearing face masks has become an everyday reality for many Chinese. They range from simple surgeon masks to trendy and colorful designer masks.
9. The Missing “4”
The number 4 is considered an unlucky number in Chinese, because of its similar pronunciation to the word “death”. Therefore, in many cases You will find the number omitted. For example, many buildings in China will not have a fourth or fourteenth floor.
When choosing telephone numbers or license plate numbers, people will often avoid the number, instead they will choose the number 8, which is considered a lucky number.
10. Chinese Exercising in Public
Retired and freed from the duty of raising their grandchildren, Chinese seniors enjoy spending most of their time with their local community in parks and public squares. They dance, sing, exercise martial arts, play cards and mahjong. Everyone is free to join or watch.