American in China

13 Jul

I really enjoyed my trip to China! I met many people, saw many things, had many…interesting…experiences; I learned a lot. Still, it’s good to be back home. I welcome familiarity, even though it isn’t as familiar when you come back to it because you’ve grown familiar with your other surroundings. I’ve been accustomed to riding the bus and walking everywhere. I now know what it’s like to ride the subway. But here, in this city, there isn’t a large bus system. We have no subways. Very little is within ideal walking distance. I can’t drive; nor do I want to drive. This makes it a bit harder to get around.
I’m used to paying for things without tax. Here, there is a tax. I’m used to carrying an umbrella around everywhere. Here, no one does that unless it’s raining!

I went to several places in China. Overall, my favorite is Zhuhai. It is located on the coast in Guangdong Province, near Macau and Hong Kong. Because of its location, it doesn’t have smog like Beijing and Shanghai. Even though it is hot, the cool sea breezes cool you off quickly. I think this was the main factor that pushed it to the top of my list.

Shanghai is nice to visit for a few days, I think. There’s a good shopping area right where we were (close to the Shanghai Railway Station) and also a touristy area with some very nice gardens.
Beijing is also a good place to visit for a few days. I’d recommend a week there at most, just to visit all the places you hear about. I really liked going to the Great Wall. We also visited the Summer Palace one day and the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square another day.
We went to Shenzhen for two days (spent one night there) and I’d rather not go back. There is a fairly nice garden you can escape to but for the most part it’s just city.
We spent a day in Macau but didn’t make it to Hong Kong. Macau is big on casinos, so there is probably one close to…everywhere, no matter where you go. We went to the Venetian and looked around the shops in addition to eating lunch in their food court. There was a casino there. We ignored it. I’d recommend visiting the historical sites there; they are quite nice.

I do think it would be nice to go back. 🙂 In the event that I do, I’d definitely like to visit some other places, but I do like Zhuhai and I wouldn’t mind going back.

Advice…take a phrasebook with you and learn how to pronounce the pinyin at home before you try it in China.

Take some form of tissues with you everywhere. Napkins are a luxury item or something, because you won’t find them too often. They also don’t sell paper towels (or napkins) in convenience stores. Just tissues. And public restrooms (W/C) will most likely not have toilet paper. In which case you would want to have tissues handy.

Always carry small change. In yuan, you’ll want to have lots of ones and some fives, and in jiao it’s nice to have fives because two five jiao make one yuan. Local buses we rode cost anywhere from one to three yuan. Special buses (like shuttle buses) can cost 16 yuan or more, but some are less expensive if they’re distance-related, or even free (like the casino buses; the Venetian bus we rode was free…because they expect you to spend all your money gambling!).

And one more thing…people DO ask to take pictures with you. I must have been asked over thirty times the entire trip, and that’s not counting all the actual pictures people took with me. It’s fun; I laughed a lot!

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