China is famous as a an ancient, mysterious and beautiful land, always appealing to adventurous foreign visitors. Below are some useful facts that you should know before entering China
There’s no English
People don’t speak English, You should get ready to not ask for directions or order food in English, try to get on with china traditional language. But you don’t need to be fluent in Mandarin to navigate around China; You can made use of body language, google translate and even drawing pictures
The country is extremely safe
Crime levels are incredibly low; this is partially to do with the controversial government and the death penalty being rife, meaning that would-be criminals just don’t commit crimes because they know that they can’t get away with it.
The distances are large
Travelling China by train made me realise how big the world is. The country is vast and distances huge – one of my train journeys, from Chengdu to Siping, took 44 hours!
The trains really aren’t that bad
Now, I’m not basing this statement on a train’s toilet 26 hours into a 31 hour journey, but the rest of the trains are fine. I stayed in both soft and hard sleepers; soft sleepers give you a private compartment, perfect if you’re travelling in a group of four, slightly larger beds, more space to put your stuff and a guaranteed plug socket. Hard sleepers are three tier bunk beds and are open to a carriageway of about sixty people. You don’t get much privacy, but it’s a great way to meet some other passengers and enjoy Chinese train culture!
The country has a heart-breaking past
It’s our responsibility as travellers to be aware of the histories of places we visit, and China has a very harrowing past that is worth knowing about.
The food is somehow amazing and awful at the same time
They really do eat everything in China. This makes dining sometimes an interesting experience, especially if you eat meat – you could quickly find out that the tasty bit of food you’re chowing down on is horse brain.
Go in to China with an open mind and try as much food as possible, but remember that it might not be the dish of your dreams!
The climate is harsh
China overheats in the summer and freezes in the winter. The whole country can see temperatures of up to 50 degrees in July and August and the North of the country can drop to minus 15 or lower in January and February. The best times to visit are therefore spring and summer, when the climate is bearable.
The cities are busy
I’m sure you’ve heard this already, but I didn’t realise the extent of this until I landed in Beijing in the middle of July. You need nerves of steel to navigate the subway and the patience of a saint to get into any museums; there’s people EVERYWHERE. But once you learn to deal with this, it becomes part of your Chinese experience and you won’t want it any other way.
The countryside is beautiful
The countryside of China is unreal; with national parks of just about every kind of landscape you could think of, impossibly blue lakes and waterfalls and soaring mountains adorned in holy relics, you’ll never fail to be amazed at the nature of this country. It is a lot of amazing things in China, waiting for you to explore.