10 October 2011

China; the good, the bad, and the just plain hilarious

Having spent the last six weeks in the country, I decided I would write a final post on China. This is just me having a rant, giving you my opinion, observations etc, so feel free to skip it.

The Good
- First up, China is a BEAUTIFUL country. There are some breathtaking spots, especially in the South. My top picks: Yangshuo, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La.
- The food. Eating local Chinese food is nice, cheap, and filling. It can be very hard to communicate, as most of the places don't have English speaking people, or English menu's, but you work it out. (If they do have English menu's, you will probably pay about double...). Sometimes you meet really friendly people who take their time to help you and understand what you want.... other times they can't be bothered. Oh, and generally I steer clear of chicken, if not all meat. They seem to just leave it out, un-refrigerated, flies buzzing all over it.
- It's cheap! Well apart from the tourist attractions, but we will get to that. In general, China is pretty cheap to travel. I worked it out at about Y1,000/week (€100) for everything. Transport and 'touristy things' make up a huge chunk of that, so you would spend much less if you were in one place for a decent amount of time.
- The people. Generally friendly and helpful where they can be. I randomly got talking to a few locals along my journey and they were all really cool people.

The Bad
- OK, time for a rant. My one big problem with China - they tourist-ify everything. They take a beautiful lake and build bridges over it, a concrete path around it, put in a couple of gardens, then chuck a ticket booth up. The take beautiful mountains and destroy them with concrete paths and cable cars. Then they slap up about 100 tourist shops around the outside, selling all kinds of crap you don't want or need. And with all that comes the:
- Cost. The price to get in to these places is insane! Sometimes on par with, but mostly higher than Western Europe. I think that is crazy for China. And extremely prohibitive for the budget traveler. The crazy thing is that the Chinese tourists gobble it up. They travel around on their big air conditioned tour buses, paying the crazy entrance fees everywhere they go.
- Staring. People stare at me everywhere I go in China. Don't they know that it's rude?
- Spitting. It is not uncommon to see an old woman on the bus, hoiking up a huge wad of phlegm and spitting it out the window... or probably more commonly on the floor of the bus or train.
- Horns. The vehicles in China have the loudest, most piercing, cringe inducing horns I have ever heard. And they LOVE to use them, all the freakin' time. Especially around cyclists. Even when you are as far over on the verge as you can go, and you can see the bus coming toward you, the guy will blast his horn juuuuuuuust to let you know he is there.
- Trains. They sell standing tickets in China, so on the majority of journeys, the carriages are absolutely packed with people. Just getting up to go to the toilet is a huge mission; wading through the crowd. And not only this, but there are a couple of things the Chinese people seem to really like: staying up night talking and/or moving around, chain smoking, spitting on the floor, and throwing rubbish all over the place. Food waste? No problem, just throw it wherever you like! Until the carriage is absolutely filthy. Add to the food waste a bit of baby pee and you have got yourself a regular dump!
- The Government. They are just annoying! Stop being such assholes and censoring the media. Telling your people lies, brainwashing your youth. Stop making the internet shit and stealing from Google. Stop trying to make train accidents disappear. And most importantly, stop blocking FACEBOOK!

General Observations
- Armpit hair on woman. As I said before, no judgement, just an observation.
- Touts. Go to pretty much any tourist spot and you will find a whole bunch of touts standing around outside, hassling you to buy a ticket from them. The crazy thing is that often you can bargain with then and get the tickets cheaper than the ones from the ticket office! Which seems crazy, as these are all government run tourist attractions. The touts must get a pretty decent kick-back, as in Kunming we got 3 cable car tickets (Y40ea) and transport to the cable car depot for Y100.

And now for a collection of awesome signs:

1 comment:

  1. Yeah- beware of the shaft. You should get that tattooed to your stomach perhaps? :)

    Armpit hair on women is yuck. I'm totally passing judgment.

    I obviously could never travel to China because I would be so completely grossed out and I would probably leave the country starving as I only really eat chicken.


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