So we packed a lot into our China travels over the course of six days, to Shanghai, Beijing, and Xi'an: Shanghai museum, cooking lesson, the French Concession, the Bund, bullet trains, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Peking duck dinner, Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an city wall, historical Chinese theater, art museum, Chinese calligraphy, the Muslim Quarter, and much more. We soaked up the Chinese culture and experience of it all. The three cities we visited had 24, 22, and 12 million people, respectively!! Like any place with lots of people, there are good and bad things that come with it. But what a trip of a lifetime!
We've compiled some observations, some from our trip and some from Terri's two weeks in Shanghai preceding our vacation time. The big lesson is to not be afraid to take advantage of any opportunity you have to immerse in a culture completely foreign to you.
Lessons learned (in no particular order):
· Chinese people are very nice and not in a hurry.
· Triple occupancy very well could mean three twin beds.
· Chinese DQ tastes just like American DQ (but no Dilly bars L).
· BYOT – bring your own tissue, for napkins and toilet paper.
· Ice, ice, baby is a rarity. You have to ask for it or cold water, and even then their version of “cold” is pretty tepid.
· Lane markings are a waste of paint.
· The Chinese air pollution may very well be due to cigarette smoke.
· Scooters have no rules.
· No, don’t assume anyone will speak English, even in tourist zones, hotels, and restaurants.
· Bars are a rarity.
· Chinese breakfast food is lunch and dinner food, with rice porridge.
· We should be very thankful for the pristine air and water we have in the US, especially in Missoula.
· Construction, security/police, street sweepers/sanitation, agriculture, and restaurants must employ at least half the population.
· Carbs rule in China.
· Chinese have strong beliefs in their culture, history, and symbolism.
· Travel guides get you in the short line.
· Cushy beds and multiple pillows are rare in a Chinese hotel.
· Chinese young people think we party a lot and eat a lot of fried chicken.
· Open, unrestricted web pages and apps are precious.
· Beef and ice cream are quite expensive in China – few cows (seriously).
· They must have hired one architect who loves the color beige.
· If you build one 40-story apartment building, you might as well build 12 of them next to it.
· Umbrellas and thin, long-sleeved wind jackets are must-have accessories for Chinese women.
· Bullet trains rock!
· Chinese people are very small – short and petite.
· If you have blonde hair, you will stick out like a sore thumb.
· There is such a thing as too many dumplings.
A Montana native currently living in New York can win a Liverpool mug watching a football (soccer) match in a Shanghai bar.
The biggest lesson is to not be afraid to take advantage of any opportunity you have to immerse in a culture completely foreign to you.
Terri, Brad, and Taylor Herron