|Carving of traditional Beijing (or Peking) Duck|
Some Chinese people are convinced that foreigners cannot use chopsticks. So they may look at you as you take your first mouthful of food. Once you've shown you can use the chopsticks successfully, their interest will abate. Don't feel offended, their curiousity is earnest and has no meanness about it.
Grape wine is very hard to find. You are more likely to find red wine (hong pit-ow-joe) than white wine (bai pit-ow-joe). Even if you find white wine, it may not always be served cold. Great Wall brand (Changchung pai) is pretty good. Imported wine is very expensive.
Chinese wine is very strong. It is more like Western spirits in taste and strength. It is an acquired taste. It can be made of rice or other things, even flowers. We found Osmanthus wine in Yangshuo. It was very strong and quite sweet.
Chinese Beer is a pretty good substitute for water. The typical beer you will be served is only about 3% strength. The higher strength beers are more expensive, so you can use the menu as a strength indicator - though you may want to ask to see the bottle before they open it to be sure. Chinese beer is lager beer. Tsing Tao is available in most restaurants, but many of the other brands are similar, and it is good to support local products. The restauranteurs appreciate it.
Chinese tea is often free. Check the menu first. When the pot is finished, turn the lid upside down for a refill.
Getting out and about
Toilet and sanitary issues
|The Two Pagodas, Guilin|
Many hotels have free wi-fi. Use of the hotel's internet room is often chargeable. Don't forget that you can't access twitter, facebook, flickr, the BBC and other websites in China. We asked a guide why facebook was not accessible in China. We were told 'they don't want too many people to be friends with the Dalai Lama'.
When entering a temple, you need to step over the threshold. Men should go left foot first, and women with the right foot first. Many temples in China do not require you to remove your shoes.
You may be refused entry to working temples and mosques if dressed immodestly. Covered shoulders are often required.
Keep your entry ticket at any given attraction until you have left. Some attractions (notably the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum in Xi'an) may check more than once.
There are quite a few scams. The teahouse one is the most common. You get asked by some seemingly kind and friendly people to come to a tea ceremony. You won't get told the price of the tea. You have a good chat and drink some tea, then you get the nasty surprise - the bill. You end up paying £30-£50 for cups of tea and leave empty handed.
Sometimes rules are imposed which have no logic or reason. You will be told that it is 'for safety' or that it is a 'rule'. Don't get annoyed, you won't get anywhere. Just see how many other people are obeying the rule and make your mind up about whether you will obey it or not. (Unless obviously the person telling you is in authority - then just obey and be done with it!)
Ni Hao = Hello
Xie Xie (shey shey) = Thank you
Just these 2 expressions will win you smiles from so many people you meet.
There is no real concept of 'queuing'. So be prepared for people pushing in. Blatantly.
Things may get to you or annoy you. Try not to lose your cool. Losing your temper is frowned upon, and is unlikely to get you what you want.