China was the most challenging and unusual country I visited on my trip. There were times, when I just wanted to pack my bags and get out of the country, because I couldn't accept and deal with certain cultural differences. Western world is completely different from China and the faster you adapt to Chinese culture, the easier would it be for you to survive there.
After living and travelling there for almost 5 months, I can only advise you to visit China - this powerful country, full of contrasts.
In order to save you some nerves and time, I collected some facts which will hopefully help you while planning your trip.
1. Google is banned
When I tell people that Google and its services are banned in China, everybody is shocked. But how can you survive, they ask me. Well, you have to use VPN – virtual private network. By connecting to VPN your computer ID remains anonymous and you are able to share and access public networks, in that case Google services. Keep in mind, that once you are in China, you are unable to download and install VPN. You have to do it before entering the country, if you want to use it there! Another bad news is that since last year Chinese government has been fighting very hard to get rid of all VPN-s. I have no idea about the current situation – but the iPhone may be the safest bet.
2. No English spoken
Next thing you should consider is no English spoken. In Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the biggest Chinese cities where most expats live and more people speak English, you might come across someone who will help you out. Although most of the kids start learning English from early age; in general NO ENGLISH is spoken in China. Keep that in mind before planning your trip to China and learn some basic Chinese vocabulary. It will not only impress Chinese people but also show respect to China.
3. Spicy food
Chinese people love eating spicy food, what reflects in adding chili to almost every dish.
If you are for some reason, vegetarian, vegan, don't like spicy food, or allergic to certain ingredients, you should definitely start learning Chinese.
Although some Chinese people claim they can speak a little English, their knowledge is limited and as soon as you start talking about specific topic, they will be confused. If you really, really cannot stand eating spicy food, then I suggest you to learn a phrase "Bù yào lá de", which implies that whatever food you have ordered it will not be spicy.
4. Meat, meat, meat
Do you know this saying, that Chinese people eat everything that crawls and sprawls? Well, there must be a reason why there are no cats running on the streets. I am just joking. But they do put meat to almost every dish, so if you are vegetarian, travelling in China, make sure you learn the phrase: Wŏ bù chī roù.
In China they use two type of plug-ins. Type A and type I – make sure you bring appropriate adaptor with you or you can buy it there even cheaper!
6. Clearing throats and spitting on the streets
If you have never been to China, you can not imagine how annoying and disgusting these habits may be. As you walk on the street, all you can hear (apart from traffic) are these awful sounds, when someone clears his throat and spits the phlegm on the street. Traditional Chinese medicine, considers swallowing phlegm unhealthy and spitting preferable. Such behaviour was very common in the past, when people were not educated.
Nowadays, with the development of education, more and more people realized this behaviour is totally rude and inappropriate.