It’s official: I’m going to China (yayyyyyyy!!!!!!).
I’ve been hoping for this for months, ever since my friend Shuyan from China invited me to her wedding three+ months ago. We became good friends during grad school (aka we wasted plenty of time together) and it meant so much to be invited to one of the most important days (thus far) of her life. Before she went back, we promised each other we’d do our best to attend each other’s weddings (relax, readers.. I’m nowhere near taking the plunge). It wasn’t the easiest thing to convince my parents, but luckily, dad begrudgingly left the decision up to mom who is 100% behind me going. Thank you, mother!
And so it begins. I’ve started with my OCD lists of all I’ll need to pack, buy, and take with me, and I’m sure I’ll go through 100 of those before the time comes. I already have a designated corner in my room of all the things I’m setting aside to take, and I’ve luckily already gone through the headache of choosing a carry-on from a trip 6 months ago. I’ve not yet told my learning disabled brother about my trip as I don’t want him to worry and be anxious unnecessarily, but as usual he has figured everything out and is asking me if I’m going to Japan tomorrow (I love that kid…. can I still call him a kid if he’s 24?). How he knows I have a stopover in Japan, I’ll never know.
The only downside to the trip is my twin sister. She relies on me quite a bit to get her places, and with me gone, she’ll be on her own for two weeks. She’s been used to having me since I came home after college for grad school, and I think she’ll feel my absence more than anyone else.
Anyway, I’d planned to start a journal about the whole experience, but my mother gave me the idea of a blog so I could share it with others and maybe teach people a thing or two along the way. I’ve received a ton of advice from friends and never realized how many people I know have actually visited China. Here are some of the tips I’ve received:
1. Never drink the tap water otherwise you will become the best of friends with the local toilet. Use bottled and or boiled water for everything, including brushing your teeth.
2. Be careful when shopping; any sign of interest will cause all sorts of tactics to force you/guilt you into buying something, and you must be prepared to bargain even past a deal seeming great.
3. Pearls are super cheap. Get them.
4. Nobody will understand you when you mime or act out words. Do not try or you will be looked at as incredibly silly and or stupid.
5. Carry a card of the address where I’ll be staying. If I get lost, at least I can give it to a taxi driver who may or may not laugh at me for being less than a block away.
6. The public restrooms do not have toilet paper. You must bring your own or risk severe embarrassment and hilarious/inappropriate dinner party stories.
7. Carry your own chopsticks in their own covered case; it’s the fashionable thing to do (thanks to Shuyan, I have two pairs!)
8. Only use your credit card in major places. It’s not the best idea to give your credit card to the dinky shop on the corner just because you don’t have enough cash. Be smart!
9. Wearing green on your head is symbolic of being a fool, a dunce, or easily swindled. The Chinese apparently get secret chuckles from seeing tourists do this.
10. Do not finish everything on your plate! Chinese hosts will take this as you questioning their generosity. (I wonder how this will play out, as I’ve been brought up to never waste food!)
11. Do not fill your plate when having dinner. There will probably be more courses, so take your cues from those around you and pace yourself.
12. Red is considered a lucky color. Wear it while in China to score points with the locals.
13. The Chinese love pork, alcohol, and eat all sorts of things that Americans do not. Be careful when eating!
That’s all I can think of for now! I’m sure I’ll add to this at some point 🙂
P.S. I wonder if the Chinese will think I’m Chinese… everyone in high school apparently thought so.