10 things I learned in my first 24 hours in China


  1. I am a minority:  I’ve only seen one other non-asian person since I got on my last airplane.  It was an Australian guy who was on the flight.  He saved me on #5 & #7 on this list.  Thanks mate.
  2. People observe unique people:  Being the only white person around, people tend to stare.  Children are especially funny and they look at me like something is wrong with me.
  3. I don’t think anyone here knows what peripheral vision is:  In the airport bathroom, the guy at the urinal next to me was looking at me the whole time.  When I looked back, he pretended he wasn’t staring.
  4. Farting, burping, and spitting in public places is normal:  My favorite was the guy who hawked a big one on the floor in the airport.  He proceeded to stomp it out like it was a cigarette.  I guess spitting indoors is cool if you’re the first person to step in it yourself?
  5. Unless single file line is explicitly stated and universally followed, its a free-for all:  When my flight was cancelled and tickets needed to be re-issued, getting to the ticket counter was like trying to get to the front of the stage at a punk concert.  I’m not kidding when I say anything goes.  People were throwing elbows, reaching over shoulders, and one guy was even gently ramming me from behind with a baggage cart.
  6. Everyone has clean/new shoes:   I’m quite sure I have the dirtiest shoes in China.
  7. Assume nothing:  I figured that when my airline ticket was re-issued because my flight was cancelled that my baggage would follow.  This was not the case.  My bag was just randomly dumped in the over-sized baggage area.
  8. Locals will assume they understood you even when they haven’t and give you direction based on their assumptions:   Me and my ‘mate’ ran circles around the airport trying to find out which ticket counter would re-issue our tickets.
  9. The lines on the road mean nothing, and side walks are not just for pedestrians:  I noticed several cars & mopeds driving against traffic in the far right lane.  Also, I went for a walk in the morning and was almost run-over by several mopeds buzzing down the sidewalk to avoid traffic.
  10. Food cooks on the table:  Most meals seem to be served almost done, and the still boiling pot is placed on the table (sometimes on a stove in the table) to cook a bit more before you eat.

Luckily, I’m a good sport and none of these things really bother me (FYI: the guy in the bathroom’s eyes were gazing above my shoulders).  I’m now about 72 hours into my trip, and believe me, that’s just the beginning of things I’ve learned.

-A-