It’s been almost a week since I walked over to China. Stayed overnight at Zhuhai, Guangdong and now it’s been four days at Yangshuo, Guangxi. There were many reasons why I choose to travel China from the beginning but I can’t say I’m glad I’m here just yet. Well, the scenery is more than I was expected. I’ve never seen just a dramatic scene before. Still I have few more months to go and plenty more places to travel. It will be interesting to see other parts of China – preferably less touristy places.
Here are some of the quirks I found in China, or just in Yangshuo.
Bank opens 7 days a week
We needed to exchange money. It was 4:30 pm and we didn’t bring our passports. Bank was about to close and it was Saturday. Our conversation went like this:
“Does bank open tomorrow?”
“Well, in common sense I would say no, but it’s China so who knows?”
We went back to the hostel and asked the manager where is the nearest money exchanger. Of course, only bank does the job and it was already 5pm. So we asked, doubtfully, “Does bank open tomorrow, on Sunday?” and what do you know? She said Yes. Yes, people, Chinese bank works on Sunday.
China is not a place for tea
I thought Chinese people think tea same as water. In Hong Kong and Macau, it was normal thing, a teapot on the table, hot or cold. But apparently it’s not a courtesy anymore in China. Or again, maybe just in Yangshuo. They want to charge 20 yuan for a pot of tea, and we even met a restaurant owner who looked at us like we have four heads when we asked for hot tea in a pot. Tea is one of the reasons why I wanted to travel China, and hot tea is an important part of everyday life. I thought Chinese people are the same way. What’s going on?
Universal plug system
I didn’t bring travel power plug. I bought a little one in Hong Kong and planned to buy one in China, since everything is cheap in China. But no need. Few places I’ve been so far in China had universal plug. It was a surprise.
China is not a place for bargain, at least Yangshuo isn’t. It almost feels like they take this as an insult. Everytime we tried to cut the price (I mean, 65 yuan -11 USD for a pair of glove, really?), the vendors just walked away, shook their head, shouting “No bargain!”. I thought we supposed to bargain for a third of price in China.
Think twice: Is it fake?
There was a warning in Macau, that we shouldn’t buy cigarette outside of the duty free shop in Zhuhai, where the Chinese border located. The reason why? Those cigarettes are fake. Is it even possible to make a fake cigarettes? I didn’t know that. It’s China, the home of everything. Then I saw the shop in Yangshuo – Kentucky Fried Chicken lady?!
Road crossing is a challenge
Don’t bother with the street light and cross walk. Trust your own eyes, and cross when you see the opportunity. Few years back when I traveled Beijing, this surprised me, big time. It was right after Beijing nominated for winter Olympic, so I thought it must be more developed than I thought but no. Seems like more than 90 percentage of people don’t care about the street light. So, hold your breath and run through the cars and scooters!
Electric bicycle: goodness or evil
I have a strong negative feeling toward electric bikes in China. If I’m in different place I would be impressed by them but not in China where the red light doesn’t mean anything to anybody. The biggest fear: they don’t generate sound. Cars and scooters, I can escape since they make noise but not these electric automobiles. I know it’s good for environment, but I just hope they care little bit more.
I did pretty well in Hong Kong and Macau. I don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese, but I can read chinese characters due to the concentrated education system in Korea and Korea and China’s complex history together. I could point out things I wanted and communicated with people by wrote down simple letters.
However as soon as I entered China after Macau, the signs became noticeably difficult to read. Then I realized that it’s the simplified letters. I knew Chinese are using simplified one in conversation or writing, but didn’t know they use it in official signs.
Well, China. We have a long way to go. I like how you look. Looking forward to have more delightful days in China!
Me, on the top of Moon Hill, near Yangshuo, Guangxi, China.
24 thoughts on “What’s Going on China? – The First Impression of China, or Just Yangshuo”
Great post Juno. I was aware of the counterfeiting things but I didn’t realise that their banks open on a Sunday too. I guess that’s how you go forward to become the world’s biggest economy very soon.
It was actually quite scary. Working on Sunday… When do they rest?! That was the secret of Chinese economy growth.
China sounds so interesting– I’d love to go. Strange you can’t bargain there; perhaps they are insulted because you are a foreigner and they expect you to pay elevated prices?
Yeah, I thought China is the place to bargain for 1/3 of the price, for everything. Strange! But we’ll see when I go to more countryside town.
It’s Yangshuo. It’s beautiful, fun, but not real China(although chicken lady is everywhere!). The West and the North I loved. China takes time, but it is awesome. I hope you enjoy it and can’t wait to follow your time there.
It’s often hard to shake that first impression of a place isn’t it! Anyway I hope you have a lovely time on the rest of your trip and don’t come across any more surprises xx
I love Yangshou it’s one of my favourite places in China, that being said it is extremely touristy and hence not a very accurate depiction of what most of China is like. In fact you will find it’s very different to even most touristy places in China as the main part of the town particularly along West Street is made to cater for western tourist hence prices are higher, western food can be found everywhere and a bar seems to be above almost every shop. This is pretty uncommon in China as most touristy places mostly cater to domestic Chinese tourists.
I’m sure you’ll find most other places you visit in China they’ll expect you to bargain and prices will be much lower. Also tea is still very much a central part of Chinese culture, you generally see the older folk walking around with bottles full of it. Many restaurants will still give you complimentary tea, just make sure to check what’s in the tea pot sometimes it’s actually used for the soy sauce!
It’s been a while since I’ve been to China. When I visited, Yangshuo was near the end of my trip around, and I found it to be very different to the rest – more laid back and set up for Western style travellers. It felt more like somewhere in Thailand than China really. Compared to other parts of China I visited, where hotels had signs up saying “no aliens”, it was quite a welcome relief,, but a bit of a bubble. Glorious scenery though!
Interesting information about China! I can’t imagine a bank being opened every day. Crazy!
Thanks! And yes, that really surprised me as well. Never thought of that.
Electric bicycles are just starting to come into Costa Rica… I’m also surprised by the universal plug! I spent a month in China a long, long time ago…My brother lives there now. He and his friends drink a LOT of tea!
Good for him and his friends! 🙂 Where in China do they live? I’m in Kunming, Yunnan now and this is a good place to live I think.
Ha, ha, ha. I hear ya on the crossing the street. There are some days when I wonder if I will ever be able to get across the street — and I don’t even live in a place with heavy traffic!
Are you going to be hitting Shanghai? If so, let me know. I live only an hour away from there. Would be lovely to meet you!
Yeah, everyday is a challenge. But so far, I made it! 🙂 Kunming is a lot less crazy but still it’s scary. I don’t think I will go north than Shanghai but I will, when I do!
I second what Sasha said about the bargaining and the tea! In fact, one of my favorite parts of dining out in China is getting my daily green tea intake. In these aspects, Yangshuo is definitely not representative of the China further north. Also, China has been officially using simplified characters – in all facets of life – since the 1950s.
You’ll definitely find tea everywhere else. In Xi’an, I was given a pot of tea with every meal.
Hope so. So far, no luck. Wish I can get a pot of tea with every meal!! Come on people!
Great tips! Yes, we’ve been to China and Yangshuo and absolutely loved it. I didn’t know it was possible to make fake cigarettes either. Only in China eh:-)
It’s just Yangshuo. Most of the country is very different and probably closer to what you were expecting.
Yangshuo might be the least Chinese place in China. At the same time, it’s also very Chinese–seeing how the new Chinese middle class vacations is actually an interesting cultural experience itself. But it’s also a difficult one to deal with for an extended period of time. That’s why I always followed up a touristy destination with a more traditional one. It kept me sane during my time in China.
Nice post which It was right after Beijing nominated for winter Olympic, so I thought it must be more developed than I thought but no. Seems like more than 90 percentage of people don’t care about the street light. Thanks a lot for posting.
Oh wow, I can just imagine the hazards of the electrical bikes, yikes!