Guest Post – The Biggest Fears You Must Overcome to Enjoy China

Guest Post – The Biggest Fears You Must Overcome to Enjoy China

China is, without a doubt, a beautiful and fascinating country. Old habits and customs seem to be intertwined with modern skyscrapers that seem to pop up every minute. While traveling to China was one of my lifelong dreams, there’s nothing in this world, including all the facts available online, that could’ve prepared me for the experience. Some of their traditions I’ve read about online, but some of them have definitely caught me off-guard at times and there were moments and situations where my jaw simply fell to the floor from the sheer amount of shock I experienced.

1.    Counting to ten using one hand

Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to master. There are thousands of different characters, most of which look almost identical to me. The language itself is tonal and unless you’re careful, your intonation can completely change the word you’re trying to say. I know very little Chinese and to make matters worse, very few Chinese people actually speak English. You might think to yourself “but it’s ok, I can probably use my hands to explain what I’m trying to say.”

You, my friend, have no idea how wrong you are. The difference in languages also extends to body language and gestures and the Chinese rely on a single hand to count to ten. Like that isn’t enough, you can also gesticulate larger numbers, like a hundred or a thousand.

2.    Squatters and Kaidangku

From my personal experience, I’ve noticed that the majority of bathrooms in China only offer squatting toilets or a cut in the tiles resembling a squatter. Most stall partitions are knee-high and I’ve seen stall-doors exactly two times. While we’re on the subject of bathrooms, most Chinese babies don’t wear diapers. In fact, what they wear is called “kaidangku”, which literally translates to open-crotch pants. I cannot describe how many times I’ve seen parents unzip their children’s crotch-zipper and let them urinate and defecate near a sidewalk.

3.    Carrying cash everywhere

I have read numerous stories online on how it’s a bad idea to rely on credit cards while traveling through China. In all honesty, I’ve only witnessed maybe a couple of stores that accept credit cards. Fortunately, this is not my first time traveling to countries that don’t readily accept credit cards and I’ve prepared financially by taking out a few personal loans. They’ve helped me pay off some of the more expensive travels which you would normally put on your credit card. But the thing is, online loans don’t butcher people with abnormally high interest rates and they can easily be paid off in monthly rates.

4.    “Poor” manners

What we westerners consider to be poor manners seem to be completely fine in China. Chewing with your mouth open, speaking with your mouth full, slurping loudly and last but not least, spitting everywhere. And I don’t mean the “sorry I have a cold, I honestly have to spit this gunk in a tissue” kind of spitting. People would be standing right next to you spit a slimeball mere inches from your feet.

Don’t get me wrong, traveling to China was one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But the difference in culture is more than evident and unless you learn to adapt and overcome your fears and prejudices, you’ll hardly get the chance to truly experience all the wonders China has to offer. Most of it is truly wonderful, the people are friendly and welcoming and the food is absolutely amazing, once you get over the fact that they also eat insects. On a stick. Covered in chocolate.

Lauren Wiseman is marketing specialist, writer and entrepreneur, currently based in Melbourne. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in fast-changing and demanding market environment. Covering finance and investment topics, Lauren strongly believes in a holistic approach to business.

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