Spanning over 9.5 million kilometres, boasting six official languages and over 600,000 million years of history, China is the most incredible and daunting place to travel. Here are some things you need to know before you go:
The people are ridiculously helpful
No matter where you go, what you want or who you are, the Chinese will do everything in their power to help you. To the point where they won’t let you go until they know they’ve answered your question or take you to someone who understands a modicum of English. This is a comfort in a country that’s not prepared for foreign tourism.
Everything is huge
You don’t apprehend how massive China, and everything in it, is. The roads are as wide as they are long (well, not quite) and the simplest of buildings look like palaces. Aside from the captivating hutongs, everything from antiquity is massive too. Good walking boots, a trusted transport timetable and a map are a must.
Google translate is your best friend
China is home to many languages and for a Western traveller, it’s completely alien. However, Google translate or a trusted phrase book will be your saviour when looking at menus, going round shops or merely trying to find out the Wi-Fi password.
The streets are used as spittoons
This is worst thing about Chinese culture; the men routinely hack up and spit in the street. A simple walk down the road turns into a slalom and you end up staring at the pavement instead of taking in Chinese milieu.
You could eat your dinner off the hostel floor
Every hostel is super clean; cleaner than European hospitals. There’s not a hair or a speck of dust to be found anywhere. It’s seriously impressive and reassuring that no matter where you stay, it’ll be at least clean.
You’ll become addicted to baozi
These steamed buns filled with pork are to die for! They’re a welcome break from balut (half-formed bird in an egg) and instant noodles. It’s not just because they’re the best of an inedible bunch, they’re actually really, really tasty.