You might want to know a few things:
#1 Public transportation in the Major Cities is good, not great.
In the major cities there is USUALLY enough English in the ticketing systems and maps that you can get around without even having to ask. There are often, but not always, announcements in English while on the subways and buses.
#2 Public transportation is nearly free.
Most Buses are 15-30 cents. Most Subways are 30-50 cents.
#3 Taxis are not that bad
Most Taxis start at 1.5 bucks and you can pretty damn far on 5 bucks.Only take metered ones or you will pay 4-5 times as much as you should
#4 Food can be good or really bad.
Most people freak out about food in developing nations for no good reason. For instance, the street food in Thailand might be feared by someone who has never been there, but it’s actually amazing. The food in China is a different story. Usually if you are going to get a skewer or something, It is going to be mostly fat. I don’t mean fatty meat. I mean chunks of Fat.
In the restaurants, food is can have some bold and edgy titles. Including dog. Stay away from the dog you heartless bastards! (I’m talking to you)
Wonton soup can be served in a tasteless oily broth, or a tasty one. It’s really a gamble unfortunately.
#5 You are paying too much!
It doesn’t matter how cheap it seems. You are paying a premium because you are foreign and they think you are stupid. So, in China, when people try and rip you off at normal restaurants, they just recklessly ask for a higher number than the total bill is. If you call them on it, they seem to just piece something together on the spot (another insult to your intelligence).
I had a peaking duck (which is the best meal in China by far, by the way) that they charged me 30% extra for no reason. Then when we called them out on it, they pointed to the plates that were still shrink wrapped. Then when we laughed they tried to claim that the duck was more than it was. We told them to go get the menu and we pointed it out. They laughed and tried to bargain for just a 15% rip off. This is all happening in a restaurant by the way.
There are two ways that a new person to China can deal with this: forget about it and just take the rip off or fight them on it (losing your temper). The sign of a person who has assimilated with the culture is the person who calls them out on the bill, but still doesn’t take it personally. Something I never mastered in my two weeks here.
#6 Prepare to be nickeled and dimed
Even museums will charge extra for passing the first 100 feet into the damn thing. They will charge you per camera when you store a bag in mandatory bag storage. You get the sense that the country is very petty.
#7 It’s hot as balls here
Right now it is 104-109 degrees here on a hot day. The heat is arresting and when there is a breeze, it feels like a hair dryer in your face. On one of the hotter days, I drank 4.5 liters of water and only peed about a thimble full of what looked like coca cola at the very end of the day!
There were 3 days strait that I didn’t even really use the bathroom. That’s weird.
#8 It’s really safe here
For as many death stares as I received, no one ever gave me a physical hassle. And for as much as these people enjoy screaming at each other, I never saw anything that came remotely close to a fight. They are all bark over here.
#9 People spit everywhere
I mean Everywhere. In restaurants, Malls, you name it, there will be a huge hock followed by a huger spit. Male and female; this is one of those places that you really shouldn’t sit on the ground.
While I’m at it, I’ll do my trusty Japan was; China is.
I can sum it up in two statements:
Japan was the most beautiful culture I have ever seen. China was not.
I’m off to London tomorrow morning to meet up with some friends that I have met along the way in my travels. Then it is off to Ireland and then Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary………. you get the picture.
In a few weeks time, things are going to start traveling at the speed of light !
And by things I mean me.