Visitors coming in to China will be surprised at the vast diversity of this country. There is remarkable diversity in each territorial region in terms of weather, landscape, food, language and even culture. The Chinese population consists of 56 ethnic groups with distinct traditions, customs and rituals. All of this makes living and travelling in China a wonderful experience.
China is one of the largest and the most populated countries in the world. Therefore, it can be an overwhelming experience for an outsider to adjust to the life in China. In this article we will take at a look at the nuances of the way Chinese people live.
In the modern age, life in China is not very different from the way people on other countries live especially in the major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. You will notice a large amount of western influence on the way people live in those cities viz. fast food, clothing, departmental stores, malls, transportation etc.
Unity in Diversity
China has an interesting mixture of cultural homogeneity and geographical diversity. Contrary to popular belief, there is no language called “Chinese”. There are numerous dialects spoken around China and the two major languages spoken are Cantonese and Mandarin. You need to travel into the core country side away from the costal urban hotspots to truly experience the fine cultural and geographical differences within China.
If you are new to China, driving around on your own is not recommended. The roads, traffic rules and driving etiquettes are quite different from the western world. In this case, the best option is to hire a cab. It is far easier and convenient than driving on your own. However, you might face a challenge with communication as most cab drivers do not know English. Secondly, be aware of unlicensed cab drivers and board only licensed taxis as they are safer in term of both; driver experience and security. It is also important that pay only by the meter and make sure that the meter is put on only when you are seated inside.
Once you have spent a considerable amount of time in China, the best option to save on cash is to use the public transportation system. Public transport is quite good especially in bigger cities like Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. Nevertheless, you should be aware that even though you might save money by travelling in buses, they may be overcrowded and lack air-conditioning.
In case you are travelling by train, spend a bit higher in getting a higher class ticket as it offers better comfort, convenience and privacy. One more important tip is to always carry a Chinese version of the address as you may not always find a person who is conversant in English.
Shopping is similar to western countries due to the large number of malls and departmental stores in cities. However, there is one major difference between them and their western counterparts – bargaining. Whether you like it or not, haggling is a way of life here. Hence, do not hesitate to ask for what you think is a fair price for the goods and services that you order.
Let’s accept it. Learning a new language if fun and getting to know Mandarin (or Cantonese) is a wonderful experience. Learning it will not only enable smooth communication but also add to your knowledge and social skills. Learn the language, it’s not as difficult as it sounds to be.
All of these pointers should make your stay in China a pleasant experience. One last tip before we sign off – respect the people and culture and they will respect you.