ROBB SAUNDERS

Adventurer, Writer, Couch Potato.

The Culture Shock – China

If you are from a western country and have travelled to China, you would have almost certainly run into these situations before. For those who haven’t had the chance to visit the the People’s Republic of China then you will be ready for these once you arrive.

IMG_8402

The public transport system

The Chinese public transport system, although efficient, is somewhat of a challenge to master. Upon arriving, you stand in what appears to be a line, so you politely wait like the others, until… as soon as the train arrives you find people appearing out of no where like ninjas, all pushing in your way, cramming inside the train. You think to yourself…

“They won’t leave until everyone’s on safely will they?”

The beeping sound of the doors begin, you have two options.

Option one, wait for the next train and stand at the front this time or option two, hulk smash your way in.

If you’re a cool calm and collected person you will feel rude for pushing yourself in, but don’t worry, the locals are used to the hustle and bustle, its every man, woman and child for themselves on the Chinese subway.

train

Spitting

As soon as you are seated on your flight to China you will start to hear it. Maybe it’s in the back row, maybe it’s someone still boarding, but once you hear it, you will never stop hearing it.

That is the sweet harmonious sound of people spitting.

As much as I love China and their people, the one thing that boggles my mind is how spitting (and I’m talking about full throat gargling phlegm spitting) became a social normality. Was it always there? Did we do it in western society long ago? All I know is if I was walking the streets in Melbourne and hocked a loogey onto the side-walk abuse would be hurled; I probably would get fined if a police officer were present.

In China though, spit wherever, spit often, and spit freely! I once had a lady turn to me on the train mid spit and sneeze all over my face, she then smiled and started eating some type of boiled meat, I hope it wasn’t dog.

Toddlers and behinds

There’s a fashion in China, where toddlers wear these clothes with a split in the buttocks region which then allows them to squat wherever they may be and perform their ablutions. To which their parents wait for them to finish, walk away and leave said ablutions for someone to slip on due to being distracted by a pre pubescent smoking a cigar.

Food markets

Wherever you are in China, you won’t be too far from a food market. Now don’t get me wrong there you will find some delicious treats to gorge yourself with. You will also notice some other Chinese delicacies that you will shake your head too. Items to look out for (or try if you can stomach) are scorpions and seahorse on a stick, they are generally still alive and wriggling upon purchase. Or maybe deep fried baby bird seems more to your liking. IMG_8477One item I saw that burned itself into my memory is the dog, laid out on the table like it was sleeping, only to then find it had been cut into pieces and arranged to look that way.

Note: please don’t eat dog in China.

china food

English t-shirt fashion

Remember back in the day when everyone had a t-shirt with Japanese or Chinese characters on it, and they all translated to the word cheese or some non philosophical quote. Well, it seems that they made bizzaro t-shirts for the Chinese. None I have witnessed made much sense. “I yum tum time” or “peace on timber” are the most memorable ones I’ve seen.

Safety does in fact take a holiday

One thing that scares me is seeing some of the construction sites, as the country is booming with development there is a lot of work being done that would shut a site down back home for being unsafe.

china worksite

Those are just a few of the weird and wonderful things you will see whilst in mainland China. I recommend everyone visit the amazing country and see it in all its glory for yourself.

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Cheers!

55 comments on “The Culture Shock – China

  1. Minmin_toh
    October 11, 2015

    One more weird culture u forgot to mention . Hope u actually witnessed it. They poop on the street. Adult I’m not sure. At least they help the kid to poop on the street haha I saw a few when I was there and even when they are in hongkong haha

  2. nibblesipwander
    September 13, 2015

    I’ve seen those YouTube videos where there are conductors whose job is to actually push people into the trains. Reading your post, sounds like that’s pretty accurate! Not for the claustrophobic, THAT’S for sure!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 14, 2015

      While I was in China it was everyone pushing everyone into the trains. Very claustrophobic scenarios indeed.
      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Oyster
    September 13, 2015

    Wow! There are definitely things on this list I had never heard of, like the slit on toddler’s bottoms! How beautiful to discover how others live. I love it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 13, 2015

      Discovering how others live their lives is the greatest part about traveling.
      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Ashlee
    September 10, 2015

    That’s definitely culture shock if I have ever heard of it… The toddlers though? :/

    • Robb Saunders
      September 13, 2015

      Yes China does have its fair share of cultural shocks. The toddlers yes were quite a surprise.
      Thanks for the comment

  5. Els Mahieu
    September 10, 2015

    I haven’t been to China yet, but would probably switch my western mind off as soon as I land. 🙂 The spitting is a hard one indeed: when did somebody think that this was a great idea and how did he make millions of people believe it? 🙂 Love the T-shirts though, haha!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 10, 2015

      That’s a very good idea, switching your western mind off upon landing will open you up to the amazement of China, and yes it would be an interesting discovery to learn where the spitting all began.
      Thanks for comment!

  6. Sarah Twain
    September 9, 2015

    Sounds so different. I hate spitting so much, I’m not sure if I would ever get used to it. Still want to visit China though! x

    • Robb Saunders
      September 9, 2015

      Yeah the spitting is something that will always turn your head when it happens, but still an amazing place to go.
      Thanks for comment!

  7. NYC JetSetter
    September 9, 2015

    Wow! The subway looks like NYC during rush hour.. not fun!!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 9, 2015

      If I was doing it everyday then yeah it wouldn’t be that entertaining, but once in a while is a great eye opening experience. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Doesn’t sound too different from India (where I’m from) so hopefully I won’t be as shocked as you were! Thanks for sharing

    • Robb Saunders
      September 9, 2015

      I am yet to visit India but it is on my list. Thanks for the comment!

  9. I know my colleague has mentioned a few of these when she’s talked about her visit to China and to be honest, it does kind of put me off visiting 😦 I’d love to go and experience the country but there’s no way I want to see kids pooping on the street or a sliced up dog on a table. I wonder if there are things about the western culture which seem bizarre to the Chinese?

    • Robb Saunders
      September 8, 2015

      I will mention that the eating of dog is mostly done in the south of China so for your first time there I recommend Beijing. The kids pooping will hopefully not be too frequent as I highly recommend you visiting there. It is such an amazing country with a deep and wonderful history. The Great Wall of china alone is a reason to go and experience the wonder.
      Thanks for comment!

  10. melody pittman
    September 7, 2015

    Very interesting post. I’ve been thinking about China for a few months now, trying to plan a trip, and perhaps I had better get familiar with some other Asian lands before trying this one. That is some pretty weird stuff, especially the spitting. Yikes!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 8, 2015

      I highly recommend visiting China. Make it your first Asian adventure. As much as the culture will shock you, you will love every minute of it.
      Thanks for the comment!

  11. Julius @ Traveltipy
    September 6, 2015

    Yeas I heard about spitting, what a terrible custom they have…

    • Robb Saunders
      September 7, 2015

      Yes the spitting can be quite unsettling at times, but that’s the great thing about learning new cultures.
      Thanks for the comment!

  12. Anne | Girl Chasing Sunshine
    September 6, 2015

    They have their own rules but my gosh, I hope they learn discipline and manners, please. I hate the spitting and how they defy queues and go automatically into ‘warrior’ mode. But oh well, it’s their country.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 6, 2015

      Yes it can be confronting at times but that’s all part of the awesome experience.
      Thanks for comment!

  13. Connie Reed
    September 6, 2015

    Eewwww. The train might be similar to Chicago’s “L” trains at times. People do occasionally spit in Chicago, too, and it turns my stomach every time I see someone do it. I don’t think I’d want to eat after witnessing all the spitting, so no need to worry about eating scorpions, deep-fried baby birds or other gross things. Maybe I’ll move China down a little on my list.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 6, 2015

      Haha yes a strong stomach is always a handy thing to have when in China, but if anything move it up on your list. The more weird and wonderful the better I say! Thanks for the comment!

  14. arsenalnic
    September 6, 2015

    Ha ha, wow! I am really looking forward to going to China to see some of the amazing places over there. Although the culture does seem quite alien in a way that is another reason to go.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 6, 2015

      Yes the culture is much different to ours, but that’s the wonderful thing about it. It truly broadens the mind. It’s a country with such a rich history. Thanks for the comment!

  15. Lucy
    September 5, 2015

    OMG, i had no idea about the spitting thing. ? Ew)

    • Robb Saunders
      September 5, 2015

      The spitting is probably one of the most consistent culture shocks you will witness in China. You will see it happen all day, every day. Haha
      Thanks for the comment!

      • Lucy
        September 16, 2015

        After reading your post I actually started looking around me… there are a lot of chinese in Italy…and yes…I saw them spitting….

  16. Bemused Backpacker
    September 4, 2015

    Totally agree! Haha! The spitting thing really gets my hackles up! You did forget one though, doorless toilets!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 4, 2015

      Oh yeah! I can’t believe I forgot those. I was lucky enough to never need one that badly to experience the exhibition that is the doorless toilet. Thanks for the comment!

  17. Claudia
    September 4, 2015

    Holy me! I don’t think I could take these. I had many many Chinese flatmates while I studied in England and lived on campus and I must say their habits (like the spitting) did look a bit weird to me.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 4, 2015

      Haha yes the spitting is a tad confronting and annoying, but I highly recommend visiting China. It’s such an awesome place to go. Thanks for comment!

  18. majestazea
    September 3, 2015

    I’m sure the street markets are so interesting to walk through! I think you can learn so much about a country’s culture through their markets. Great post!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 3, 2015

      I agree. The markets are the cultural hub of a country. Thanks for the comment!

  19. Karla
    September 2, 2015

    We also have crowded trains here and some of it but even to us who are used to crowded places. .. china is still a culture shock 🙂

    • Robb Saunders
      September 2, 2015

      Yeh i guess from where I grew up I wasn’t ready for the vast amount of people in such dense areas.
      To put in perspective Beijing has about the same population as the entire country of Australia.
      I can’t wait to get back there.
      Thanks for comment!

  20. deafinitelywanderlust
    September 2, 2015

    What an interesting post! I actually experienced culture shock in South Korea. I was amazed by their transit station and how crowded it could. I haven’t been to China yet but would love to backpack there. I had no idea about the toddlers and their fashion, I will be sure to watch where I’m stepping on.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 2, 2015

      I highly recommend China. I can’t wait to get back there again. And yes you must watch your footing around toddlers haha
      Thanks for the comment!

  21. Kimberly Erin
    September 2, 2015

    ahhh spittingnoooo!!!! This is a cute article, made me giggle

    • Robb Saunders
      September 2, 2015

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment!

  22. China is definitely its own world. I experienced quite a bit of culture shock when I was there years ago–and I was only in Beijing and Shanghai.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 2, 2015

      Yes it is its own world, such a great place to visit. Thanks for the comment!

  23. Ynah CA
    September 1, 2015

    I love China, it is actually a great place o explore:) And all those weird things are all part of the adventure.

    • Robb Saunders
      September 1, 2015

      Exactly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It would be boring if the whole world was the same. Thanks for the comment!

  24. Antonette Spaan
    September 1, 2015

    Despite the spitting, I’d love to go to China one day … and as for the pushing in the train, I’m used to that 😉

    • Robb Saunders
      September 1, 2015

      I highly recommend going. It’s such a wonderful country.

  25. GirlUnspotted
    September 1, 2015

    Lol and I thought I came across the strangest things in the Philippines already. Very interesting toddler trend, wish you would have included a picture of that. However, very glad you did not post a photo of that dog.

    http://girlunspotted.com

    • Robb Saunders
      September 1, 2015

      Haha I unfortunately didn’t get a photo of the toddlers. I was too stunned to move when first witnessing the event. And yes the dog was a very disturbing day. Lol

  26. thecontinentaldrifters
    September 1, 2015

    Can I ask what’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten over there?? It’s quite similar to the ex-Soviet states in regard to safety, which I find hilarious. But eurgh, I had the sound of a phelmy spit!!

    • Robb Saunders
      September 1, 2015

      I’m not the most adventurous eater, I think the most unusual thing I ate while over there was the flower moon cake during the moon cake festival. Most of the moon cakes are delicious but this one is basically a cake with a flower inside so wasn’t that great. And yeh I once saw a chef in a restaurant I was eating at spit on the floor while he was cooking my meal. Safe to say I never went back there again and opted for a closed kitchen from then on. Haha

      • thecontinentaldrifters
        September 1, 2015

        Haha, ahhh yes – nothing worse than seeing the state the chef is in halfway through eating your meal!

  27. Danish Danial
    August 30, 2015

    Alright then next stop – China HAHA! My turn to try.

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2015 by in Adventure, adventuretravel, Beijing, China, Nomad, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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