Somehow, after only planning a month in China, we ended up spending 6 weeks there. For me, that included a seat at TechCrunch Disrupt; for Fred, visits to the Shaolin Temple – birthplace of kung fu – and the terracotta warriors. Luckily, we also made it to the Great Wall, on a gorgeous day (see below). Some of the highlights from China:
- The pollution in Beijing really is as bad as they say. On a few days, we awoke to what looked like a heavy covering of fog, but was actually smog. We bought face masks and looked like real tourists.
- Be on the lookout for stinky tofu, a putrid concoction that many Chinese love. I literally had to refrain from breathing through my nose in much of Old Beijing.
- Restaurants often offer utensils wrapped in plastic, for a small fee. From what we could tell, dirty ones are shipped back to a cleaning company, which power-washes them to remove any germs and sends them back wrapped up.
- Chinese food – at least to me – was way too greasy and salty. But I did find the best salmon handrolls I’ve ever had, for just over $1 at Itacho Sushi.
- KFC, McDonald’s, and Starbucks are ubiquitous.
- In the street and on public transport, people are extremely pushy and aggressive – if you don’t assert yourself, you’ll get cut in line, trapped in a crowd, or squeezed off a metro car.
- Domestic plane rides can be a boisterous social experience, with passengers jabbering, sharing food, and selling stuff.
- Avoid Beijing during National Day – which in fact lasts a week – unless you love huge crowds. The government also tightens up Internet censorship during that week.
- Speaking of Internet, it’s slow and spotty. GFW, anyone?
- I’m told that heating is government-controlled and only goes on when the State decides it’s cold enough – which means a cold October in some Beijing courtyard hostels.
- High-speed trains that average 125 mph make a clean, fun, and fast way to travel – only 5 hours between Beijing and Shanghai (a trip I did three times).
You’re a brave girl, Kira! I don’t do Asia… 😉 But I have been to the Middle East (Israel/Sinai). Might be a bad time for that now though.
So where to next?
Thanks, I’m doing my best…
We’re in Vietnam now, headed to Thailand next.
salmon handroll… mmmmm…..
What was your favorite part of China? Did you eat much street food?
My favorite part was taking a boat down the river from Guilin to Yangshuo. I didn’t have much street food, but I did enjoy the little pots of fresh yogurt in Beijing.
Yangshuo is brilliant; I really enjoyed the town’s engagement with hikers and hostels.