Travel, while it can be frustrating (airports), expensive (go where “locals” go!), time-consuming (pick less-busy days for sites and sights), it’s also fun, rewarding, can be inspirational, educational, and one gets to see those “places.” I’ve been to China five times, three of those times with Global Volunteers, and I learned something–many somethings—each time.
- People in China—are calm (usually), courteous (always), talented (obviously) hardworking (ditto), polite in speech (always).
- History lovers (me) find China a wonderful and fascinating place, laden with their history and some of ours. Who can see and walk (part of) the Great Wall of China – erected to keep out invaders – look across at the hills around it, and not be amazed, maybe stunned, by the massive effort to build it?
- One must also address the “eastern” and “western” aspect of a certain fact of life—restrooms. When in China, always ask “Eastern or western?” when needing a restroom. You may not have a choice, but please use the “western” if you do. (And, if there’s an attendant there, be sure to take the toilet paper she/he offers. Or see if there’s a place to get some as you enter.)
The only description I can give for “eastern style” is “squat” toilet, and one’s aim must be accurate. The condition of some restrooms indicates—even in Xian’s great modern airport—that others ahead of you had some difficulties. Women’s pant legs or longish skirts need to be held tightly in your hands. (Just relax. You will soon be in the arms of a nice hotel which has western bathrooms. You might check if you are traveling alone; tour guides are aware of U.S. “sensitive natures” and usually place us in “western” hotels.
There may be a “tip” plate sitting where one can’t miss it. Just leave a small amount of money….probably less than a dollar. And smile and bob your head.