China Warnings Or Dangers Tips by lindyz
China Warnings and Dangers: 183 reviews and 82 photos
Once again, I had been warned to try and avoid the many beggars in China, in particular in and around the Forbidden City. Well, amazingly (and I do not know why!) but we did NOT encounter many beggars at all. Perhaps in our whole 3 weeks, we would have been lucky to have seen maybe 6 in total, and the ones we did see were not seriously aggresive. And ... we saw not one in or outside the Forbidden City. Im not sure why we saw none, perhaps the Chinese Government was trying to clean up the countrys image before the Big National Day Celebrations in Beijing. Maybe if you were to go to the Forbidden City now, they might be back ...
We saw a few in the Muslim Quarters in Xian near the Great Mosque that were quite aggressive and unpleasant. And there was this one man who Tracy and I will always remember at Yu Yuan Gardens in Shanghai. Actually it was outside the gardens, in the bazaar area and right outside Starbucks, as we were sitting having lunch inside and watching this little scenario unfold outside. An old man, with a partly disfigured face and very tatty clothing was hanging around a tour group who were eating their lunch outside. He was just standing there, looking, not outright begging. Someone came and offered him food and he shook his hand and said no. Tracy and I thought that this was quite odd. Someone gave him some money, he quickly took that. Then a tourist handed him quite a substantial amount of food in a tray which looked like it had been bought specifically for the beggar. He took the food, put his hands together and praised the tourist, who then walked away. When the tourist was out of sight, the beggar threw the entire tray of food in the bin, not even looking at it or even tasting it!
Tracy and I were quite shocked at this, we couldnt believe our eyes. Has this man never heard of the phrase "Beggars cant be choosers"
We were told by both our guides that if we were confronted by beggars, not to even look at them and to keep walking. If they were slightly persistent, just to put our hand up, with the flat of our palm facing them and say "No". This certainly worked the few times we had to use it.
I always still find it sad to come into contact with beggars, and there have been many in the Asian countries Ive been to. If nothing else, it should really make us stop and think, and to appreciate all the goodness in our own lives.
Tracy with her beer and our toilet paper!
Even at Hotels, they were stingy in providing toilet paper, mostly only giving us half a roll per day! And most if not all toilets do not provide toilet paper, so you MUST bring your own, or even better are the small tissue packs, fitting easily into handbags or bumbags.
Also something we found difficult to source was Lipton Black Tea, it took us 4 daysin Beijing to finally track some down! None of the Hotels we stayed at provided it free in the room they only provided Chinese herbal tea, so it took us days of searching in Beijing to finally find some to buy. We bought 3 packets and kept it in our room safe, along with our toilet paper, passports and cash!!!
The other thing we found impossible to find at the shops was the liquid hand wash you use, like Dettol or other brands. I did bring 2 small bottles from home, but ran out and couldnt find it anywhere, luckily I also brought some anti-bacterial wipes from home also. So, make sure you take a huge stash of handwash stuff.
Oh, and another thing we found hard to come by (and had to steal them from shops!) was sugar for our cups of tea. We usually went to Starbucks or King Coffee (the chinese equivalent of Starbucks but cheaper) and had a cup of tea or coffee and then stole about 10 sachets of sugar each! Also, something not given in our rooms was teaspoons to stir our cuppas, so had to steal these also, from Starbucks or KFC! So, if you like a cup of tea or coffee in your Hotel room, it might be wise to bring your own sugar, teabags, coffee and teaspoons. The milk we just bought on the street, guessing it was low fat milk and getting it right every time!
If you dont speak at least some or fluent Mandarin, then your holiday in China is indeed going to be an adventure! Ours certainly was, and thats an understatement. Most taxi drivers, shop owners, and even Hotel Staff speak little or no english. But, we seemed to get by with knowing only a few words in Chinese, ordering food from only pictures, and if all else failed, then just by using body language! Most Chinese dont know the meaning of "toilet" so we struggled with that one, trying to actually find a toilet. We learned very near the end of our trip that "WC" sometimes works and the word "pee" sometimes works, and also pretending to rub your hands together sometimes works, as Chinese quite often refer to going to the toilet as washing your hands. When we were at the Great Wall with Alvin, he kept asking us if we wanted to wash our hands, and we kept replying that we were fine, that our hands were clean, then later we worked out he was asking us if we needed to go to the toilet! One other body language method worked once, quite funnily! I just stood there with my legs apart making a gesture of something coming out from between my legs!!! And they went "Ahhh, over that way".
I can tell you the few Chinese words we did learn that came in very handy.
xie xie (pronounced she she) meaning thankyou
ni hao (pr. nee how) meaning hello
bu yao (pr. boo yow) meaning dont want
bu yao la (pr. boo yow la) meaning dont want chilli - this one worked great!
duo shao (pr. door shou) meaning how much?
bu (pr. boo) meaning no
far peow (thats how its pronounced) meaning ticket or receipt, this worked both in taxis and an shops.
Im sure many people have done warnings about Chinese toilets before, so this will be not unlike the warnings! I will say that the toilets we encountered were not quite as bad as I was expecting, although I will also say that it is an added travel problem for us women to have our periods whilst travelling in China!!!!! (sorry guys - had to be blunt here!)
The majority of toilets we came across were squat toilets, and I guess you kinda get used to them via necessity, although I did miss the aim a few times, and its also sometimes difficult to keep the bottom of your pants or skirt from dragging on the floor which is covered in urine!!! We did only come across a few toilets that were so putrid we had to refuse to use them. Oh ... and the vast majority of them smell rather badly. I believe this is mainly due to the fact that most people do not flush their toilet paper, instead you put it in a waste paper bin next to the toilet - EW YUKKKKKKK!!!!!!!! So glad I dont have the job of cleaning out those bins, thats for sure. Most toilets will have a sign saying "Please do NOT flush toilet paper". So ... when in China, we do as the Chinese do - while blocking our nose the whole time and trying desperately not to breathe in or to look at what is actually in the bin next to us!!!
This pic is of a typical squat toilet, this one slightly cleaner than most! Take note of the bin next to the toilet, thats where all the smell is!
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR WESTERNERS - in most public toilets you will usually find one western sit-down toilet, and it will usually be marked with "disabled/wheelchair access" on the door. It was always either the first or last toilet, so remember that when you enter a toilet block, look first for the disabled toilet. Rather funnily, if there was a line-up for the toilets (and there usually was!) the Chinese ladies will usually opt NOT to use the western toilet, but to wait in fact for a chinese squat toilet to become available!!! We found this quite amusing, as we were always waiting for the sit-down toilet to be free!
I had been warned by many people to watch out for Chinese spit!!! And, yes indeed, that warning was correct. I have never witnessed so much random and disgusting spitting in my entire life. You cant walk 5 metres without stepping on spit, or having to quickly move to avoid incoming spit! And the noises they make when doing it - yukky!!!
And its not only the men that do it, the women are just as bad. In Australia when I go for a walk, Im usually on the look-out for dog poo, but in China, we were constantly on a "spit alert"!!! We did a lot of walking in China, and therefore came into contact with a lot of spit.
It seems to be a totally accepted practice over there, no-one gives a second glance if someone does a big hack right in front of you, or indeed, almost on you! And then if we ever happened to give someone the evils for almost hitting us with their secretions, we were almost abused, but certainly frowned upon.
So ... this is my warning to you. THE CHINESE LOVE TO SPIT, THEY WILL SPIT ALL DAY LONG, THEY WILL SPIT ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE!!! You just need to try very hard to get used to this, or you will spend your whole time in China going "ewww yukk" - like we did!
I was also warned that in Shanghai sometimes the men will spit on your shoes and then offer to give you a shoe-shine service - for a fee!!! Luckily for us, we did not encounter this, otherwise I probably would have become rather abusive.
Powerpoints found in all 4 Hotels in China
I was unclear as to what adaptor to take from Australia, so I took two. The one with 2 round prongs and one with 2 flat prongs. All Hotels we stayed at took the one with 2 round prongs, but not the other one. Also, at our last Hotel in Shanghai, The Metropole, it also had a power point in the room that you could plug Australian plugs straight into, without an adaptor.
So, just do your research, cover all possibilities and you will be ok. Someone here on vt will tell you exactly which adaptor to take to any country in the world!
I was quite devastated the first time I got on a pc in China to learn that they have banned Facebook!!! I dont really know why, but a quick warning - that if you are hoping to keep in contact with friends and family via Facebook while holidaying in China - IT AINT HAPPENING!!!
Well ... we hadnt even got out of the country and we were already (nearly) scammed!?
We get up to the Chinese Consulate at 9.05 am today. We find the building and heading that way, when a Chinese guy in the laneway says "are you here for your visa?" and we say yes. He says "Go in there" so he ushers us into a small shopfront across the road from the Consulate. For everyones future reference the Consulate is in Dunblane Street and it is a grey coloured cement rendered building - not the small shopfront we were herded into. Ok, so we get in there, there are 2 ladies serving and about 6 ladies waiting in front of us. I immediately think this does not look right, it doesnt look like an official building, just cos there is a sign out the front that says "Visas" does not mean this is where we are meant to go. We asked one lady in front of us if this is where we go to apply for our visa and she says apparently so. All this time, I keep sticking my head out the door and the shonky looking Chinese guy is giving me the evils. I kept saying to Tracy that I didnt have a good feeling about this. Then I stick my head out the door again and this Australian guy in a suit (who I assumed worked for the Consultate) said are you here for your visas, and we say yes, then he says, dont go in there, follow me!!! I am thinking, WTF is going on here, this is so not right. Anyway we get into the real Chinese Consulate building with a line-up of people and immediately know we are in the right place. The guy who told us to go in there has disappeared, so we just get in line. Tracy says that she should go back and tell the lady across the road who we asked that she should be in here, so she does. The evil looking Chinese guy in the laneway follows her into the shopfront, Tracy tells the lady the Consulate is actually across the road, the Chinese lady serving says "no No No we do a service for the Consulate" and the other lady stays there.
Well ... sorry about the long-winded story. I can only assume that this shopfront acts as an agent and lodges your application for you ... FOR A FEE OBVIOUSLY!!!
What I am curious to know is if this is legal? It certainly does not seem morally right, that this suspect Chinese guy is herding ONLY WOMEN - NO MEN into this shopfront across the road.
The actual address of the Consulate is 39 Dunblane Street, the address of the shopfront is 2/55 Dunblane Street.
Well we handed in our applications, have to go back Friday to pick them up. We walked out of the Consulate going "Oh My God, we were nearly scammed and we had not yet gotten out of the country!" I mean, we were warned of scams in China, but not actually just getting your Chinese Visa.
Just a warning to anyone going up to get your Visa, to go straight into the grey building and ignore the shonky Chinese guy telling you to go to the shopfront. Illegal or not???
There were no dramas at all in going back to pick up our passports and visas. And ... YES ... the guy was still standing outside the Consulate directing people to the shop across the road. We just stood and watched him for about 10 minutes and he only approached Australians, or should I say, he did NOT approach any Chinese.
Well ... curiosity got the better of me and I decided to ring the Australian Federal Police about 2 weeks later. When you ring the number you then have to choose a category for your phone call, that in itself was harrowing! I had to choose "national security and terrorism" as my query fell into no other category! I explained what had happened to the guy, who was totally uninterested and did not seem to be taking me seriously at all - which I found to be rather frustrating and annoying. He basically said I should direct my query to the Consulate. I then debated whether I should ring them, and decided not to, at least not until I come back from China, just in case there were any repercussions from the Consulate about my query!!!
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