Our Trip to China
Hello friends! With the current state of our globe, I thought this was a good opportunity to write my first blog post about our travels! Not including our great nation of the US of A, I have visited 5 other countries. Our most recent out of country trip was to CHINA, of all places!
In this post, I will give my honest thoughts about my experience with the country. I know several other people who have visited China and each of our experiences were very different. It is huge, after all, and I'm sure there are differences in each culture from one district to the next. Also, my husband was sent here for a business trip and we spent a lot of our time attending conferences!
To start off, I will list some of the biggest cultural differences that we noticed. Please take into consideration that there was a HUGE language barrier, so these are the things I could observe with just my eyes:
There are no standard toilets. What I mean is, there were restroom facilities, but it would be a porcelain hole in the floor. And - now hear me out here - NO TOILET PAPER. Yep, that's right ladies. You had to carefully squat over a hole in the ground and make sure you didn't forget your tissue packs! I never really wanted to find out what alternatives the locals used, (but at least they aren't worried about toilet paper shortages).
General Hygiene - Hacking and spitting were normal. We saw children peeing in the streets. I heard the adults do this as well, although I didn't see any during our time there.
Streets were kept super clean! Every 30 feet or so, there would be a street worker keeping things tidy. Also, large machines with street scrubbers would soak and clean the roads. If they're going to pee in the streets, at least they clean them regularly. Honestly, the streets were very nice, much nicer than back home!
If the men got hot, it was perfectly acceptable to roll up your shirt and walk around with your upper half exposed.
Personal space was almost non-existent. With so many people, it's really no wonder why. You have to cram to get anywhere.
The smog was real. Most of the landscapes looked foggy, but it was due to the smog in the air. It rained about day 4 of our trip and the rain cleared the smog and we finally saw blue skies.
Traffic was chaos. What's weird is that it was organized chaos. Horns were used frequently to let others know that you were *politely* going to cut them off. It was packed and pedestrians walked out in front of cars all the time. About day 2 or 3, we had to figure out we had to do the same or we'd be standing in the same spot for hours! Community bicycles were a huge thing, as well as scooters. It was not abnormal to see two adults on a scooter with 3 children stacked on the handlebars and a baby hanging over the mother's arm. (Not exaggerating).
Holy selfies. They were always taking selfies and videoing themselves in public. In America, I feel weird if anyone sees me take a picture of myself. In China, there's absolutely in shame in singing and dancing to your phone screen. On one particular instance, Laramy was walking the West Lake at golden hour and could barely get anywhere because once that sun light set in, everyone stopped to take pictures.
Beauty standards are different. It's true that they want to look like us. They try to achieve pale skin and rounded eyes. Every billboard model was so over exposed, you almost couldn't see their skin at all. My blonde hair and blue eyes were a definite commodity and I was almost always on camera. They weren't shy about filming me either! They would take pictures and videos of me and I had one brave group of men actually surround and pose with me for a picture. They were nice enough at least and thanked me afterwards!
They are VERY hospitable! They take pride in grand gestures, entertainment and hosting.
Expanding on Cultural Differences
We spent a week in China in September, 2019. We arrived in Shanghai and were escorted via bus to Hangzou where we stayed four days,, before heading back to Shanghai for another 3 days! Hangzou was a beautiful part of the country. We were met with cobblestone streets, iconic Chinese architecture and the lovely West Lake in Hangzou. Shanghai was very modern, with sleek skyscrapers and city life!
Our first day we were given the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. I was pleasantly surprised by how safe I felt walking around. Not that I would have left my husband to explore on my own, but we were largely ignored roaming the streets. We were told that a lot of this has to do with the income we provide to the Chinese - we are their tourists and they rely on us to spend money. If we don't feel safe, we are obviously less likely to meander about and spend money at different shops. I am not sure how valid this statement is, but either way, it was no big deal to wander around!
The Chinese are incredibly hospitable! They take pride in grand gestures, entertainment and hosting. We were served the best food and accommodations in Hangzou. Not all of the food was to my liking, but my point is that we were well taken care of. We were able to speak with one of the Chinese workers on our trip, (his English was remarkably good), and he said that what we were being fed was very high end in their country, only the rich could afford it.
The language barrier is VAST. I ignorantly assumed most people would speak at least partial English. This was NOT the case! If we were not with our group, there was pretty much no communicating with locals. Buying anything proved to be a challenge and there was no asking for directions, so we relied on our phones to navigate the town.
Needless to say, there are a ton of people. An INSANE amount of people. You hear that, but until you experience Shanghai during the Mid-Autumn festival, drowning in a sea of packed bodies, it's really hard to grasp the concept. Imagine our tall skyscrapers in large cities in the US - now stack those one after the other, after the other, filling the city. That illustration is the Chinese apartment buildings. Massive, tall and numerous, it's difficult to compute how many people are occupying those buildings. Our Chinese worker friend was able to give us a little insight into how much money they make, which is next to nothing. When they are at the age to move out of their parents home, they usually get an apartment with one or more friends and one of them will pay the rent, while the other will get a car that they will share.
The towns really come alive at night. Most activity happens at night and that's when most stores open, which makes sense, because they are all working during the day.
Places and Activities
Now, to move away from cultural distinctions, I want to talk about the cool things we actually got to do! In Hangzou, it was fun enough to explore the lake, shopping malls and history. We were there for CFMOTO's new side by side launch. CFMOTO is a powersports manufacturer centralized in Hangzou. Laramy sells these units at work and it was amazing to check out the new lineup! We were able to take demo rides on the new CFMOTO ZForce 1000 on a test track they built!
On one of our sightseeing days, we visited a sort of theme park that I can only describe as an Asian Silver Dollar City, without the roller coasters. It featured ancient Chinese traditions from the Song Dynasty, along with cohesive attire and historical themed shows and food. The visit was not described to us beforehand, so we had no idea what we were walking into. 5 minutes into our entrance, we were wrapped in Chinese kimonos and sent on our way to explore. This park was called Hangzhou Songcheng Park.
We stayed in Shanghai for 2 or 3 nights, which came with less desirable accommodations but more of a look into the vast city life. A memorable stop in Shanghai was the Shanghai Tower! This is a 128 story mega skyscraper, the second tallest in the world! You travel up the second-fastest elevator in the world to the observation deck. At the top, we were looking hundreds of feet down at the top of some already impressive skyscrapers! What's eerie about this skyscraper is that it's largely uninhabited. Plans were made to fill the stories with businesses, apartments and the like. However, there have been issues getting fire authorities to provide occupancy permits due to safety concerns.
We did a boat tour of the city scape at night which was unbelievable! I'm more of a nature girl myself, but the city scape was super impressive!
If you are interested in visiting #China, (although I'm sure not any time soon), and would like to know more of the logistics involved as far as travel is concerned, feel free to reach out! Overall, I am super grateful for the experience! Cultural differences are eye opening and they really made me appreciate our country and gave me a view into the other side of the world.
MORE IMAGES from our trip!