Now that I am back home & able to reflect on my trip, I have come to the realization that everything I thought I knew about China, was likely wrong. I did years of research, in fact, one of my memories today on Facebook was when I originally planned my trip to china 6 years ago, so it is safe to say, this was a trip that took 6 years to plan and finally take.
I had some pretty hilarious moments in China, I had one annoying moment that would have been scary as hell had I been alone, and I even did something that is considered insulting… So many things I wish I would have known prior to my arrival in China, so today I want to share with you.
This trip was remarkable and I am positive I will talk about my trip to China the rest of my days. It is a country that I hope to return to in the very near future, because it had that large of an impact on me.
So what did I learn exactly?
The Great Chinese Firewall is not a myth, I knew about it prior to my arrival in China, but I did not realize that google was part of that firewall… so my thoughts of using google maps to walk all over Beijing fell through, I had a VPN but it did not work, which brings me to my next lesson.
It is NOT easy getting reliable wifi in the Hutongs. We did a lot of research and we felt like we should easily get internet while in China, hell our hotel HAD internet… but it was not reliable. We later realized that getting wifi in general was not easy in the hutongs and decided to take it as a good thing and we digitally disconnected. We did find lots of free internet when we were in the financial area, which also has a lot of western hotels, so that might be a problem for you if you stay in that area.
Beijing has an interesting relationship with food. Guys, it is no secret I am not a food person. If I could just tap an IV and keep hustling I would, most people in my life find that crazy, but I never really think about food, unless it is cupcakes… I always think about cupcakes. Anyway, I digress. Food. Is. Everywhere. In Beijing. I am serious, restaurants, food vendors, people eating street food in front of you. I have never in my life been to a place that seems to celebrate food the way the people of Beijing do, so if you are a foodie, I feel Beijing is an absolute MUST for you.
Blue skies do exist in China. In fact, the skies were so blue the first couple of days, I even thought the pollution was a myth. It isn’t, the city is crazy polluted and I have never experienced smog like that, but apparently the Northern Winds do blow the pollution out and you can experience blue skies.
About flip flops….
Yeah don’t wear them, or do. I mean I guess it doesn’t matter… I wore them and probably 1 in 3 people would stare at my feet. It was really awkward. I have a complex about my feet anyway… come to find out, it is frowned upon to wear flip flips in public. Knowing that now, I am kinda humiliated that I did not do a better job researching what to wear in China. I can assure you I will not make that mistake again. People would point ya’ll then start talking in rapid fire Chinese… about my feet. Granted I did not understand them, but I know.
The rickshaw drivers are relentless and scandalous. We took one rickshaw driver that was fascinating and legit… we took another that was an absolute scam. I will write about that scam in another post… because had I been alone, that would have been a terrifying moment and I don’t want others to fall victim.
Good luck getting a legit cab near any tourist attraction. Cabs are dirt cheap, cabs from the airport were less than 15 bucks and a typical cab ride cost less than 5 bucks… unless you take one from a tourist attraction and then it is not uncommon for the prices to triple. If you want to negotiate cabs go for it, but typically just walking away from the attractions gets you a better rate.
Don’t book a Great Wall tour before you arrive. It is SOOOOOO much cheaper to do it in Beijing, they are fighting for your business and yes they take you to the jade museum, but truth be told it isn’t that bad and only lasts 30 minutes.
The lessons I learned in China were valuable and I can assure you that next time I go to China I will leave my flip flops at home. China is an amazing country that I feel you really need to give a chance.
I learned that 400 million Chinese play tourist in their own country every year, but only approx 4 million foreign visitors visit China every year. This country truly is a gem that if you are not going, you are missing out. I can honestly say I have never felt more safe in a country in my life and I can’t wait until I book my next flight back. I absolutely LOVED China.