You Know You’re in China When….

Crazy meat in ChinaWhen it came time to go through our “You Know You’re In…” file for China, it was bulging at the seams! A country that doesn’t give a damn what other people think, this behemoth is bold, brash, and beautiful. While some stereotypes like incessant spitting were true, the streets were cleaner, the people friendlier, and nature was more pristine than we’d ever imagined. Then there were things we could never have dreamed up (carnival dentistry, really?), always keeping us on our toes. From the Great Wall to the Great Language Barrier, You Know You’re in China When


Solo China travel for westerners– When you need your iPhone translator, hand signals and a calculator to buy a train ticket or a piece of fruit.


Traditional Chinese Costumes– A country’s most passionate tourists are the people who live there.


Chopsticks to pick up trash in China– Chopsticks are the utensil of choice for just about everything, trash collection included.


Do Chinese people take your photo– Western tourists are so rare in central China (we were the only two white people out of 500 tourists on our Yangtze river cruise) that you become an instant celebrity.


Tai Chi in Beijing park– Your parks are more likely to host a Tai Chi class than a soccer game.


Wulingyuan Avatar Forest– Your forests are so magical they inspire $230 million movies.


More Than Toilet Restaurant in Shanghai– Western toilets are so exotic they can inspire porcelain seating and a chocolate-based menu for a restaurant.


Emeishan pagoda– You realize the Chinese restaurant paintings of misty mountains dotted with temples are not just a throwback to ancient times, you can trek through that painting today.


Dentistry in China– A Dremel is not just a tool for cutting bathroom tiles, but your traveling dentist’s tool of choice. (Photo taken at a carnival in Benzilan)


Shanghais Bund view– Cities are so futuristic they star in sci-fi films without any CGI.


Chinese diaper pants on a child– A slit in the back of a kids pants is the next best thing to diapers (For best results, hold child over a sewage drain … we saw this happen in Fenghuang!)


Chinese butcher holding a tail– A short walk through a Yunnan meat market might just turn you vegetarian.


Do Chinese people spit a lot– Spitting is accepted in restaurants, carpeted trains, and office buildings…but they draw the line at Buddhist monasteries.


Chinese squat bathrooms– Your toilets look more like crime scenes than restrooms.


Tour groups in China– Sightseeing usually begins with name tags and follows with a yellow telescoping flag pole, an obnoxious microphone, and 200 of your newest friends.


Chinese signs in Beijing– Anything less than one million people is considered a village.


The good, the bad, the ugly…China is what is and we loved it! Let us know what you liked best!


36 thoughts on “You Know You’re in China When….

  • April 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Split pants are the best. I saw a kid let loose over a magazine in the middle of a public square while his mom, dad and grandma watched.

    • April 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      I laughed so hard when I read this…split pants are the best and pampers be damned! Now the mental image on this magazine debacle is a bit blurry in my mind but perhaps that’s for the best ; ) glad you had china diaper experiences and more!

  • April 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Haha, these are great! Having lived in Shanghai for over a year and half now, you’d think I’d be used to all these cultural differences. Just today, a man nearly fell off his seat on the metro trying to get a better look at me (I’m blonde). Never gets old 🙂

    • April 13, 2013 at 3:34 am

      What are you doing in Shanghai? Not sure you will ever get used to them…haha. it is amazing how few westerners there are in China right?

  • April 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    You are a celebrity there and here!!!!!!! That must have been funny having your picture taken by so many people. Is it not illegal to take naked pictures of children there? I think you may have to censor the but for the US. We love tracking your adventures! I loved this highlight!!!!!!!!

    • April 13, 2013 at 3:31 am

      i am not sure if celebrity is the right word, but we were in a heck of a lot of photos…it was too funny. naked children…after visiting Laos (where nearly half the kids had no pants at all) we realized Chinese kids were quite well clothed 🙂

  • April 13, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Love this so much!!!! You summed it up perfectly – such a strange, crazy but exceptionally beautiful land. Thanks for the trip down memory lane (but I missed that damn toilet restaurant!!!)

    • April 14, 2013 at 4:22 am

      So Glad you could relate to the quirkiness! Get back to shanghai as fast as you can, I have a feeling the potty restaurant won’t be in biz forever ; )

  • April 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Yeah, the double nudie girl…that looks like the hat of a trustworthy dentist

    • April 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      even when you are there, things seem far away. But we wouldn’t trade our 35 days in China for anything….it was such a wonderful part of our journey, great people, wonderful food, and surprisingly unique natural phenomenons

  • April 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I don’t know if it is what I liked best, but I was shocked at the way their bathrooms look. I know I lot of people who would use diapers before using that bathroom. I’m pretty laissez-faire about things, but diapers even sound better to me.

    • April 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      oh @facebook-1482017535:disqus lol…trust me, most of the bathrooms were nothing like that, but we did come across that crime scene on one of our bus rides. it was quite an experience, haha. reminds me of my grandmother’s stories from her visits to China in the 80’s

  • April 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Love the photo of all the girls in traditional garb with their Chucks and sneakers! We’ve also noticed the same thing about Japanese landscapes and art at our office–why do mountains always look like that? Because they DO look like that here! Congrats on finishing the China leg of your update; we’re looking forward to your Japan leg!

    • April 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      @twitter-396959836:disqus i was also counting the numberof Chuck Taylors in that photo when i posted it….too funny. And those landscapes through China and Japan are unreal….in the USA our main exposure to those scenes is Chinese restaurants….then to see that come to life was quite a trip. JAPAN NEXT!!!! oh we are excited. you guys have been so supportive of the HoneyTrek, can’t wait to share all the Art of Travel love with our followers!

  • April 16, 2013 at 9:07 am

    you seriously brought me right back to my days in china… the chopsticks, the bare bottoms, the “toilets”… what a place. think of you guys often! lots of love 🙂

    • April 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      jess…..when were you in China? did you go solo or with a friend/group? we think of you often kid….have any carrots? no matter what…always….Ride The Bull! Mike & Anne

  • April 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Hah! These are great!

    • April 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks @KenWeb:disqus we always love bringing a smile to your face! Hopefully we get to cheers you in person in July when we swing through the East Coast (you are East Coast right?)

      • April 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm

        Yep. East coast. Charlottesville VA.

  • May 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Loved the post. The picture of the baby with the slit pants and the toilet made me laugh so much. I travelled around China for a month, the year before Beijing hosted the Olympics. As a young woman (only 21 at the time) I found it a very challenging place to travel around and I ended up booking all my train tickets through hostels – something I feel rather guilty about now after a few more years travelling experience! I must admit I wasn’t too fond of China the first time round – I felt ill constantly which put me off trying too much of the food, the language barrier was very different to overcome, and I found the staring and spitting thing just a little too much. Looking back though, I do want to return to China and try and explore the parts I didn’t manage to see last time.

    • June 4, 2013 at 6:39 am

      we freaking love your attitude @travelbllgr:disqus – that is totally what travel is about, looking at all sides of the coin, and giving people a second chance as well. i think if you went back with someone and had someone to laugh about all the hardships, and have stairing contests back at people…..yeah i think you would love it. that said, it was super tough traveling for us too….no cake walk there 🙂

  • August 18, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Lots of china kids (1-3yo) still use that kind of pants. Their parents think it is much easier, when their kids need to go, they just go. From economic side, save lots of money :p
    Anyway the slit on the pants, not only at the back of the pants. You can also see their “little bird” from the front side 😀

    • August 23, 2013 at 4:53 am

      LOL Hui. we loved the lack of diapers, definitely environmentally friendly and less in landfills. Thanks for chiming in, and welcome to HoneyTrek

  • January 27, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Great summary.Starting my 3rd year in China and still get treated like Angelina Jolie when I walk down the street!

    • February 20, 2014 at 1:08 am

      glad you enjoyed that post @disqus_pKp8m0h93h:disqus….thanks so much for connecting up with us on Twitter as well. So great to have you along for the ride 🙂

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