China is becoming an increasingly popular destination. The combination of exotic community and fantastic shopping is almost irresistible. But the culture clashes can be difficult.
Here are six things you should know before you go to China.
Once upon a time, China was one of the world’s most closed countries. And it did not get any better during the communist dictatorship. But for the past 20 years, China has gone from closed to transparent, at least when it comes to tourists.
This, combined with the economy going like the train and shopping, is irresistibly cheap, has increased the country’s popularity as a destination.
But it’s still a different culture – at least from a Western perspective – so it pays to do research before you go there.
Here are six things you need to know before booking your ticket to China.
1. It is not possible to experience everything
China is the world’s most populous nation and the third-largest on the surface. China is not a unified culture but encompasses a huge diversity of people, traditions, geography, habitats, and customs. It is simply impossible to experience everything.
Choose a few things you want to experience and do it properly.
2. No one speaks English
There is no language spoken by as many as Mandarin, so why should the Chinese learn English? To our untrained ears, Mandarin (and Cantonese) is almost impossible to understand. So get yourself a good phrasebook or an excellent language course if you want to get off the most popular tourist routes.
3. China is not just cities
Our image of China is often smog-filled industrial cities or crowded giant cities with huge high-rise buildings. But China is also dazzlingly beautiful in nature, spectacular mountain scenery, and views that make you lose your breath.
So don’t miss the chance to visit Chinese nature if you get it.
4. Karaoke is huge
Karaoke may be a Japanese cultural expression, but it is an even bigger phenomenon in China. And who doesn’t want to experience middle-aged businessmen in suits breaking out in Whitney Houston?
Karaoke bars are not just a place where you have fun, it’s also a place where you hold business meetings.
5. The food can be pretty weird
If you think you understand Chinese food culture because you have eaten Chop suey or Beijing anchor at a Chinese pub, then you have got it all wrong. Chinese food can be very different. Duck tongue and chicken feet are just the beginning. But if you manage to ignore that you eat things you do not recognize, great culinary experiences await you.
6. Chinese do not like body contact
If you like the French way of greeting with cheek kisses or prefer European men’s hugs, then you need to think about when you come to China. Here you do not even shake hands. And we also do not speak deep Japanese bowing as a greeting. A slight nod and the words now are good enough.
An attempt at handshaking can be perceived as directly uncomfortable for many Chinese. Yet, the Chinese have no problem with crowding local traffic in a way that would be unthinkable for someone from North America or Europe.
(Image credit: Bing)