China – By the numbers!

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A Chinese ‘Sanpan’

Welcome to my second – and final – piece reflecting on our recent holiday in China, (the first was posted HERE yesterday). Our 19-day adventure included shiny modern cities, smaller towns, rural locations, large retail malls, small local shops – and pretty-much everything in between! We saw the uber-rich, the rich, the poor and the very poor. We people-watched a lot of time whilst travelling by train, mini-bus as well as by foot, and this offered us a great understanding of modern China. Unsurprisingly, my figures DON’T reflect Hong Kong (it felt very different!).

Our China Holiday in 2019

China – By the Numbers!

Best read with your tongue occasionally in your cheek! 😁

0 motorists giving way on the roads (from ANY direction!)
0 locals understanding ‘cold milk in a jug please’
0 awareness of a Westerner’s need for ‘personal space’
0 locals prepared to queue
0 rickshaws seen in action
0 lbs weight-gain (Ann). Only 2 for Steve! – see the last item on this list!
0.25 metres of toilet roll in the whole of mainland China
0.33 bars of soap in total when out-and-about
1 person in a wheelchair
1 canal trip
1 phone/laptop portable charger confiscated (ironically on our final internal flight)
1 beggar
1 Audi e-tron
1 McDonald’s visit
1 lake
1 location where my VPNs didn’t work all day
1 Irish Bar
1 sound-and-light show
2 languages on most major road signs (English & Chinese) in/near the big cities
2 pieces of cheese (they don’t appear to ‘do’ cheese in China!)
2 river trips
2 international flights
2 motorists signalling (surely a mistake!)
2 locals using the toilet cubicle with the door OPEN
3 paper hand-towels (but not in the same place!)
3 Stellas
3 scooter riders of 300 million (official ownership stats!) with their lights on when it was dark
4 different scooter riders (only!) wearing skid-lids
4 glasses of Guinness (£12 a pint!)
4 mozzy bites
4 Brits trying to make sense of it all
5 domestic flights
7 Temples
7 tour guides (Michael, Mona, Nina, Jeremy, John, Stephen and Mark)
8 is THE lucky number of you’re Chinese
8 cities
11 Chinese lunches
11 Teslas
14 teas tasted, ranging from ‘English Breakfast’, ‘Earl Grey’ to ‘Habiscus and Rose’
16 local beers
18 blog-posts
19 pagodas
23 coffees (they were found with the ‘hen’s teeth’)
125 quid for a new electric scooter – and you don’t need a licence to put it on the road
350 km/h – top speed of China’s ‘bullet’ trains (that’s a mighty 217 mph!)
430 km/h – top speed of the Shanghai’s ‘Maglev’ train (270 mph!) – Kettering to St Pancras in 15 minutes!
580 people in the cast of the sound-and-light show
800 metres of silk thread from a single silkworm’s cuckoon
806 Photos
23,247 Chinese flags (OK, we didn’t really count them all, but the Chinese are very patriotic!)
225,616 steps (including 28,102 in Hong Kong) – we DID count these using our phones!

Phew! 😁

My camera-roll (and less of my chat!) HERE

China – What we learned!

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Shanghai Nights

After almost three weeks immersing ourselves in ‘the Chinese way’, here’s the first (of my two-part) light-hearted look at our experiences. Part 2 is tomorrow.

The People

  • With a population of around 1.4 billion, in the big cities it certainly felt like it. In the more rural locations, however, you’d never know!
  • Families used to be limited to one child, now it’s two. Heavy (multiple annual salary) fines if you over-do it!
  • A law that stated that stated when you’ve owned your property for 70 years, it had to be returned to the government was recently repealed
  • Many Chinese don’t respect the West’s need for ‘personal space’ – expect close encounters!
  • Queuing is not a concept the Chinese understand nor respect
  • Some Chinese like to touch you when communicating
  • Angry Chinese tend to shout (very loudly) first – and reason with you later!
  • Like the West, the youngsters are glued to their phones
  • Chinese travelling around on push-bike has been mostly replaced by Chinese on electric scooters

The Places

  • Most big cities are dual signed (Chinese/English)
  • Hardly any police were seen on the streets (despite what you might read)
  • Passports are needed when visiting some tourist-type places
  • Plenty of CCTV cameras about!
  • The roads are pretty much pothole-free
  • Many of their road bridges over rough terrain are spectacularly long
  • If you find a hand-towel in a toilet, keep it for next time – they’re a rarity. So is toilet paper in most womens’ WCs
  • Soap in toilets is also a collector’s item (and I think there’s obviously a lot of collectors in China!)

The Customs

  • The currency in mainland China is called ‘RMV’ or ‘Yuan’ (about 8 to the £)
  • Getting a coffee is a challenge when out and about, especially away from big cities
  • On the road, there is no such thing as ‘give way’ (to the right, to the left – or any direction!)
  • Indicator bulbs will last forever out here as signalling is a rarity
  • They love their electric scooters, but they hate putting their lights on
  • Chinese food here is much like Chinese food back home – but it’s mostly warm (rather than hot)
  • Wealth is sometimes spectacularly obvious!
  • The big cities look very capitalist for a communist country
  • No-one jay-walks
  • ‘Hairy Crabs’ is a delicacy not a disease
  • Squirrel Fish has nothing to do with squirrels

The Tech

  • Most modern hotels have English three-pin plugs
  • Free wi-fi is not as abundant as in the UK (only in hotels and SOME shops). Shops that DO have it, don’t always advertise the fact, so you have to ask for the SSID/password (which they happily provide)
  • You cannot access any Google services from anywhere in China. Facebook as well as most other western social media platforms are blocked/banned
  • VPN is a must if you need any of the above
  • VPNs’ efficiency sometimes tails-off in the evening (frequent connects/reconnects)
  • VPN is NOT a perfect solution. It mostly works, but then it doesn’t!
  • If you’re serious about communicating online out here, best to have TWO VPNs
  • …and set them up BEFORE you arrive in China, otherwise it’s almost ‘mission impossible’ once you’re there.
  • No-one from China uses WhatsApp, they use WeChat instead
  • Traffic lights in mainland China have a countdown clock so you can prepare for them changing (they don’t have the ‘orange light’)

Coming tomorrow… “China – By the Numbers” (Our holiday in figures!)

My holiday camera-roll (and less chat!) HERE