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World Experiences: China

[ 7 ] May 29, 2010 |

How is it that it’s so easy to travel the world yet truly experiencing it doesn’t come so easily? This series is all about getting to the heart of a destination, not only seeing the great tourist sights but also experiencing at least a tiny piece of local life.  Each article will explore the ‘must have’ experiences of a destination from the perspective of an expat.


You haven’t experienced China until you have…


…Tested out your quad muscles on a squat toilet.

Now I don’t know how it’s possible but I have heard of people managing to live and travel in China without ever using a squat toilet!  To them I say where on earth did you actually go!?  Squat toilets are everywhere in China they’re at bus stations, train stations, in department stores, even in McDonald’s and KFC!  I even have a squat toilet in my Chinese apartment (when I tell people this they are usually left in a state of shock!)  However once you get used to using leg muscles you never knew existed and get over the shame of public toilets with no partitions you realize that really they aren’t so bad after all.  They are also far more hygienic than western style toilets despite often looking incredibly filthy! When it comes down to it, when you gotta go you gotta go!

Clean China Squat Toilet

Above:Squatties this clean are rather a rare sight in China!


…Eaten a strange part of an animal.

Duck heads, fish heads, duck liver, chicken feet, pigs fat and many other strange animal parts are highly likely to at some stage appear on your table in China.  Now I’d never actually recommend anyone order some weird animal part unless of course they were game enough to do so. I myself am far too much of a wimp and left it to chance for a strange animal part to find it’s way onto my plate.  So if you do happen to be sitting on a table with strange animal parts or happen to find a chickens foot in your hot pot, then take the plunge and try it even if it’s just a tinsey winsy little bite!  It may taste disgusting or it may taste delicious, you never know until you try it right!? And at least you will have the bragging rights to say you gave it a go!


…Climbed the great wall.

This is a given!  If there is one thing I would say to do in China if you were only here for a few days it would be climb The Great Wall of China, after all it’s a wonder of the world!

Great Wall of China


…Watched an acrobatics show.

There’s a reason why China always does so well at gymnastics in the Olympics.  It’s because the Chinese were genetically programmed to have the ability (with a lot of practice of course) to bend their body into shapes you would never have thought were possible. At an acrobatics show not only will you witness amazing flexibility but also death defying tricks and beautifully graceful choreography.  I can guarantee you will be blown away and may have some trouble picking your jaw back up off the floor!


…Drunk tea with a local.

China is truly the land of tea and the Chinese absolutely love to drink it! To become at least a tiny bit Chinese you should enjoy a nice cup of tea with a local whether it be at a tea house, in a tea village or at your hostel/hotel.  One of my most memorable moments in China to date was drinking tea with a dear little old lady in her home in a Hangzhou Tea Village.  Never did I think anyone could be so passionate about dry leaves in hot water!

Drinking Tea in a Hangzhou Tea Village

Above: Me drinking tea in this dear little lady’s house in a Hangzhou Tea Village.


…Mastered using chopsticks.

Now I know that most people are fairly well trained in the art of using chopsticks from eating all that Chinese takeaway back home.  But if you are one of the few who hasn’t yet mastered this way of eating then China is the place to do it!  At most places you literally wouldn’t be able to eat if you can’t use chopstick’s as most restaurants don’t have spoons let alone knives and forks.  My advice for novice chopstick users is do some hand stretches before and after a meal to stop you getting those nasty chopstick fatigue pains that can leave your hand in a permanent chopstick holding pose for several minutes.


…Wandered around a hutong neighbourhood.

There’s nothing quite like glimpsing old China’s traditional way of life in the various hutong neighbourhoods hidden in cities all throughout China.  Beijing has the most well known hutongs  but for Hutongs that have not yet been touched by the tourist trade head down south to Zheijiang province where you will find many cities with hutong life living as it has done for centuries. (You can check out pics of Beijing’s Hutongs in the lates issue of On UR Way Magazine)

Keqiao Hutongs

Above: Keqiao Hutongs, Zhejiang Province


…Sung your heart out at KTV

KTV is the favourite pastime of China’s youth.  Think karaoke without the embarrassment of singing badly in front of a huge crowd of people.  Instead you book out a room for your group, get the drinks flowing, queue up your songs and sing your heart out while lounging around on far too comfortable sofas.


…Watched neighbourhood aerobics.

It doesn’t seem to matter what city you’re in, every neighbourhood will have a public park/space that every night will have absurdly loud music pumping through random speakers.  Look out for the crowd and you will discover in the centre a group of people (far more energetic than me) flailing around in that common way people seem to when doing aerobics.


Share your world experiences!

I’d love to have travelled all over the world and be able to share all the top “World Experiences” but as I have not I’d love you to share yours! If you have some offbeat and authentic cultural experiences to share from a particular country contact me here.


If you want to follow my journey teaching, living and travelling in China then  subscribe to the RSS feed!!!  You can also follow my random updates from the ground in  China on twitter.

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Category: China

About onurwaytravel: Colin has been travelling the world with his young family for the past 2 and half years. He runs a couple of websites all revolve around travel, family travel and digital nomadism. His websites include,, and now View author profile.

Comments (7)

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pamela MacNaughtan and Sasha Peakall, Sasha Peakall. Sasha Peakall said: New Post: World Experiences – China …Check it out!!! #lp #MatadorN #travel [...]

  2. Having spent many months into years traveling South East Asia I was a squat toilet pro. However, nothing prepared me for the shock of communal open air squat toilets in China. There’s nothing quite like squatting and doing your business in full view of the squatter next door and the line of ladies waiting to take your place. Let’s hear it for walls China!!
    .-= Caroline Makepeace´s last blog ..Daily Photo: Jammin with the band, China =-.

  3. Sasha says:

    Yeah and I think half the problem with the whole communal squats is that the nature of women taking forever and having such long lines makes it all the more akward, all those people watching and waiting!!!! EEEK!!!

  4. Nicky says:

    hey thanks for sharing your experiences! Now you really make me wanna go there! would you like to check out the list of the most beautiful beaches in Australia ?

  5. Emily

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pamela MacNaughtan and Sasha Peakall, Sasha Peakall. Sasha Peakall said: New Post: World Experiences – China …Check it out!!! #lp #MatadorN #travel [...]

  6. [...] and fodder for my curious eyes who at this point were so used to seeing an older more traditional China of Canals, Hutongs and lack of English signage.  This is what I had come to know as China but my [...]

  7. [...] few months back I started a series called “World Experiences… You haven’t experienced (insert country name here) until you have…” I’d really like to [...]

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