Posts Tagged With: A Canadian Chinese Adventure

You Get What You Pay For -medical in Shanghai

We all wish we never see the inside of a hospital. It means terrible things in most instances. That of course is even truer when traveling or working abroad; a scarier thought. As you know recently I have been sick. I have seen the inside of the hospital numerous times over the last few weeks. In Canada our insurance is covered. Doctor and hospital visits are free, something that our high taxes affords us. In China my work luckily pays for my insurance and I never had to use it for much more than a small cold or sinus infection. This year ultra sounds, CT scans and blood tests have become part of the norm. Each time I pay a small fee for the tests, but wait times are minutes, hours or days at max. At home long wait lists can stretch time lines into weeks or months. Results are just as fast within the hour at times.


My hospital bed

My hospital bed

Recent tests and another CT scan discovered a small cyst or tumor that is the result of my pain and poor health. The kidney stone was the obvious diagnosis, but the fever and other side effects it prompted them to keep searching. Quick reactions almost lead me to a hospital stay and operation on Monday. I wasn’t prepared for that and wanted my western doctor to review everything to make an informed decision, so we somehow got them to release me. I however turned into a pin cushion with 6 needles in 24 hours. A strong antibiotic was administered through IV. The pain has reduced so hopefully this will lead to recovery and not an operation.


My hospital room looked more like a hotel. The treatment that I received was of great care. With the tests I had Friday the hospital had limited English and they sent one of the girls to come with us to translate. She asked if I had a way to the hospital 45 minutes to 1 hour from home and when I told her I would take the metro she arranged to have a car and driver pick us up. He waited to take me home, but when they thought I may be admitted they sent him home. She has sat with me to keep me company and talk with me when I was alone, as my husband was in Canada when I first started this process. She puts in long hours and is always available through texts and calls. The doctor stopped in on his way home to check on me and make sure everything was going well. I also have their personal mobile numbers and have been encouraged to call if needed. Being so far away from home I have been very lucky to have such support and care. It certainly has made this process so much easier.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sign Language

More often than not we have run across funny signs and translations in China. Some words do not translate well, or are  a mix of words and meanings, which we refer to as Chinglish. More specifically this is a phrase that can be random, mistranslated or in ways/patterns we would never speak. Today was no exception when we happened upon this new sign in our local grocery store.

Where is Batman & Robin?

Where is Batman & Robin?

Didn’t see any bats there….  😉 and all the wine was on shelves. Do you think that cave was mistranslated for cellar?


Stay tuned…



Categories: Chinese Adventures, everyday occurances, post a week, strange adventures | Tags: , , , , , ,

What is it? Luo Han Guo

The Chinese are known for their traditional medicines and natural remedies. Sometimes we are lucky or brave enough to try them. In January right around parent teacher interviews I had a case of laryngitis brought on from a combination of a sinus infection, dry air from the heating, pollution and not drinking enough water. After a few days rest and antibiotics I started to get better, but my voice was not coming back. I have some lovely parents and they brought me throat lozenges from many places around the world. They lovingly gave them to me to try. They helped my throat feel better, but my voice was still scratchy. One parent suggested I try this tea and promised to send it the next day. Instead she ran off to the shops and returned with the product straight away.


Opening the fruit which was wrapped in a styrofoam mesh, like the expensive fruit at the grocery store, I was surprised to find a hollow sounding greenish brown fruit. The only way to open it was to bang it with something hard and it cracked like an eggshell. Inside a hollow centre held some seed looking things in the shape of corn kernels, but larger. The instructions said to place a small bit in boiling water and drink. It is supposed to sooth the throat. I was willing to try anything as long as it didn’t taste or smell bad. Neither… it was actually quite sweet with an indescribable flavour. Almost immediately my throat felt better and my voice started to return. It is like a miracle cure! I had tried the honey and lemon, numerous kinds of cough candy, gargles and other natural remedies, but nothing ever worked so well and so fast. For someone who has lost her voice a lot this was a true gem!


So what is this miracle? Well it is called Luo Han Guo (pronounced Lou hang gwah). It is native to China and parts of Thailand. I have learned it is a sweet fruit and it spoils quickly, so it is usually dried. It is used mainly in teas and some companies and traditional medicines use it as a sweetener. If you would like to read more than check out this article I found here. It starts out very medical/scientific, but skip past that for more details.

I left one of these at my brother’s when I was home last and he thought it was a ball and threw it in the kid’s toy box! They are light and hollow feeling, but what they hold inside is very interesting and some say funny looking. I have had some odd looks to “What is that???”, but hey sometimes nature knows best.

This week I have been suffering from another sinus cold and sore throat and I have found not only Luo Han Guo fruit, but medicine in a more concentrated form. They work wonders. I was feeling better, but it has settled back in, (the pollution is bad and seems to trigger this) so off I go to cuddle on the sofa to watch some TV and drink my funny looking tea.

So what is your home remedy or must have when you are sick? Share below in the comment section.

Stay tuned…. or check out my previous posts this weekend. I did 2 photo challenges on Peaceful (Peaceful and Peaceful #2) and another on Fleeting.

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, post a week, strange adventures, teaching overseas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunch

I have started to take photos of food and my husband always comments that it is weird. Well lucky me I had some great shots for this week’s challenge 😉 And hey taking pictures of something that looks strange, or a work of art is a great memory frozen in time. Besides sometimes seeing is believing!

Last year I had one of those very moments. My co-teacher and her husband took me and my husband out for the day. We went to lunch in a place that was over flowing with diners. Service was fast and the noise level high which added all to the Chinese experience. We would never brave an establishment like this on our own since we speak little Chinese and how would we order… or worse what would we get??? Pointing a pictures may end up in some strange dishes and things you would rather not know they cook and serve, let alone eat.  After a brief conversation about what meats we liked they took to ordering. This is what appeared on our table.

Duck Tongue Delicacy

A real foul  delicacy 😉

We had some duck, chicken and pork. See the funny looking ‘meat’ in the front. The ‘sticky’ looking things. Try to guess what it is before reading on. It is not something I would ever think of eating, nor cooking. Give up??? Clue… it is poultry…. and a part of the animal. What did you guess? Put your guesses below in the comment section. I can’t wait to hear your suggestions. Anyway it is duck tongue! Yes duck tongue. She swears it is delicious, but I had to take her word on it. Even John who can be more adventurous, and not the same picky eater that I am, refused to try it. As they were eating the tangled mess it would be sticking out of their mouth and reminded me more of some bizarre insect with legs everywhere. I’ll stick to the chicken thank you.

Another bizarre food which is a Canadian speciality never really struck me as weird until talking about it to a fellow (American) teacher. They described it as a heart attack waiting to happen. I think it is delicious. Canada isn’t known for its cuisine. When people ask what foods is Canada  known for they come up with Canadian Bacon and Maple Syrup. someone even suggested the other day we eat maple syrup on everything! Really! I’ve known them 3 years and I don’t think I’ve eaten anything with syrup on it in front of them. Anyway the other food I am trying to share is poutine (poo-teen). It is a French Canadian dish and yes loaded with calories, but the savory and salty mix is lovely. I must admit I never tried it until a few years ago and thought WOW what I have been missing! I am not one to like gravy on my fries, so I avoided it. One day something tempted me to try it and I was hooked.

Salty Savory Poutine

Salty Savory Poutine

It has to be done right too, or it is not good. They have to be fresh cut fries and best if the skin is still on the ‘taters. Then a good beef gravy, NOT canned. Some people use shredded mozzarella cheese and that is just WRONG. It needs to be the big chunky, salty cheese curds that Quebec is known for. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

What is the strangest thing you have seen for lunch?

What food is your country known for?

To see more examples or join in the challenge go to Word Press here, or just add a comment below and stay tuned 🙂

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Photography, post a week, strange adventures, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel Etiquette

I just returned to Shanghai with a 14+ hour flight and before we left the ground I almost blew a gasket! It had to be the worst flight ever. Travelling on a small piece of metal hurtling through space which is already cramped and crowded you need to think about fellow passengers and not to mention customer service.

I have learned travelling with Chinese is just like trying to get on the subway metro. It becomes survival of the fittest. Push, shove and why wait for others to get off before getting on? If you are polite and orderly then you will miss the train. Before the attendants are even at the gate they line up waiting to get on the plane. Umm has anyone told them the little piece of paper called the boarding pass is guaranteeing them a seat and place on the plane? I don’t understand the logic of lining up when seats are called by row to help ease the flow of boarding. I have started to do the same now only because if you wait for your seat chances are there is no room for your carryon luggage. A few times it has to be stored 5-10 rows away from where I am sitting which is fine until you try to retrieve it. Soon as the plane stops moving they are up out of their seats pushing to get off the plane. What is the hurry? You can’t go anywhere until the doors are open! So basically I end up waiting until the flight is almost empty to get my things. Patience is not in their vocabulary 😉


This flight I was caught a little off guard and they started to board soon as the attendants arrived. I was also leaving from Toronto and last flight in January anyone who tried to board ahead of their called rows was turned away, so I didn’t feel the urgency to get on just yet. Lesson learned; never assume things will be like last time! I thought we were on a larger plane with over 60 rows of seating, so I got in line when they called my row in the 40s. Once on the plane I realised I was sitting at the back and ¾ of the plane was already on board! While still waiting in line the last rows were called and the remaining passengers tried to push and cut into line ahead of the other passengers who were already waiting. Common courtesy is just not observed.

As I tried to fight my way upstream to my seat, through the many people blocking the aisles who seat rows had not yet been called, the people behind me were close enough I could feel them breathing down my neck. As I stopped and waited patiently for the blockers to rummage through their carry on the people behind me began to push. Really where do you want me to go? Should I trample the other passengers? After about the third time I said out loud ‘Really? You need to push me? People are in the way’. The people behind me backed off ever so slightly.

overhead bin cartoonI got to my seat to see all the overhead compartments stuffed full. No one put anything under their seats and large carryons (most people had 2 plus a large bag of duty free). Obviously the carry on luggage rule was not carefully monitored. I asked the flight attendant to help me find space and she said go back and look closer to the front of the plane. I said ‘No I don’t think I need to put my luggage near the front when there should be space here. I boarded when I was suppose to and all the others came on early and took up all the space. That isn’t right.’ She just walked away. Great customer service… thanks for your help. Did she come back later to see if I found space? No of course not.

Thank you to the kind gentleman who tried to help me squeeze my bags into an overhead bin, but there was just no room. He also had an unfortunate situation where his wife and small baby were near the front of the plane and he was near the back. The flight attendants said there was nothing they could do since the flight was pretty well full. I doubt they asked anyone to move. I am sure if someone knew the situation they would have helped. I also had asked for an aisle seat hoping they could do something at check in. After explaining I was travelling alone, needed to get up and move around and needed close access to a bathroom I was told I had a window and that was a good seat. Again thanks for your understanding and good customer service.

Now just add a small wheelie bag and purse to the picture and you will have my view.

Now just add a small wheelie bag and purse to the picture and you will have my view.

With no other option and I wasn’t about to try to swim back downstream I shoved my small wheelie bag under the seat in front of me along with my purse. In an already small environment I now had no leg room. Good thing I am short and I am not claustrophobic because this would have put me over the edge. My seatmates came along and luckily didn’t have large bags. They settled in and it started to snow, so the long flight was about to get longer as we had to go to de-icing. Luckily it was a light snow and hadn’t had time to accumulate so the icing process only took a few minutes.

Soon as we were in the air the fellow in front of me reclined his seat and immediately started to snore. Could this get any worse? As it would have it yes. I had difficulty sleeping due to my cramped positions and my body just ached and was all tingly from pins and needles. My body was finally tired enough to sleep through the pain. Not long after I got some sleep my snoring friend kept opening the window to see outside even though the night lights were on. The blinding light woke me up from the 2 hours of sleep I managed to get. He had to have opened the blinds at least 3 times. Hey buddy yes it is still sunny… just like it was 15 minutes ago. I guess he already slept 7 or 8 hours and didn’t notice the other sleeping passengers around him.

This is how I felt only more confined being at the window and having my carryon underfoot.

This is how I felt only more confined being at the window and having my carryon underfoot.

In my already cramped position I noticed my middle seat mate had the legs propped up on my luggage which as you recall was under my seat. She had lots of space on her side, but I guess thought I needed less. At the end of the flight an announcement was made to stay in your seat if you needed assistance and a flight attendant would happily help you. Well sitting at the back of the plane I couldn’t get out and I had to wait for my seat mates to leave so I could pry my things from under the seat. Did any attendants come to see if I needed assistance? No of course not. They were all too busy gathering their things and leaving the plane. I left BEHIND some of the flight crew. I guess the announcement is not put into practice, but sounds like good customer service. I have done a lot of travelling in my life and this had to have been the worst flight with common courtesy and customer service I have ever had. Maybe if I put it out there in the universe people will stop and think about travel etiquette… Here are a few things for travellers to think about.

1. Carryon luggage – if you have more than 1 bag stow one under your seat so others have room for their things.
2. Think about packing light and not carrying all your belongings on the flight with you.
3. If you want people to fly your airline again acknowledge them and be kind, don’t ignore them and walk away. Maybe they wouldn’t be so grumpy with you if you treated them like a valued customer and wanted their repeat service.
4. Wait for your seat row to be called before lining up to get on the plane and the airlines should reinforce this.
5. Personal space… in an already cramped environment need I say more?

Now this may not be the worst travel horror story, but having back trouble and requiring to move every 2 hours or less, leaving my husband in Canada (and hopefully seeing him before July) and dealing with family illness back home I was sensitive and emotional as it was. All the small things built up and made the trip back here alone difficult. (And I didn’t even get into the taxi situation once I arrived in Shanghai…).

All images from Google Images.

What is your worst travel story? Or what can you add to the travel etiquette list?

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, social graces, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

As you know my husband and I live in Shanghai, China. Before we came I worried about the language, culture shock and all things foreign. It was on the other side of the world from where home was and all that is familiar. To our surprise Shanghai is very modern, many western people  live here, and western items and cultures have a place here. Since this is our 3rd year here less and less is foreign and more everyday life. There are always a few things that still catch our eye and make us say ‘shaw-ma’? (what?) and do a double take. When I thought about this post I wondered what could I show you that was different from what I have talked about before and something that was still a little new to me. What could be rare and maybe not in other places in the world, or made it (or was common) to North America?

I decided to show you Hot Pot. What is that you ask? Well it is a way of cooking and eating… a very social and communal way to eat a meal. I was first introduced to it last spring and I was hooked. A large pot of broth is brought to the table and there are many flavours to choose from like your standard beef and chicken broth, but also more unusual like mushroom and fruit. Once you pick your simmering broth you pick what you would like to eat… the choices include a variety of meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles. The water comes to a boil and you place your thinly sliced items in the pot until they are cooked. A selection of sauces, spices and oils are spread out in a smorgesbourg bar style fashion. You pick the ones you like and after your food cooks you add it to the small bowl of sauce and eat it. The food cooks within in minutes. Large plates come to the table so everyone can share and cook what they want. Some hot-pot places do individual pots, but most hold 1 large communal table pot for everyone to use.

individual hot-pot and all the trimmings

As us westerners are still getting the hang of chopsticks slippery food often falls back in or gets lost. Fishing around for it with two thin sticks cause some giggles and fun as everyone may dive in and help you find your missing morsels. A few weeks ago one of the coordinators from school hosted a hot-pot and invited everyone from work to go since this is a rarity and unknown in so many other places. This particular restaurant in Shanghai has been voted number one. Its popularity is easy to see as the waiting area was crammed with people and a line up was out the door. Thank goodness we had a reservation.  To entertain the waiting crowds origami, games, shoe polishers and manicures await to help you pass the time. I even think there was massages available! Can you imagine going to your local restaurant and instead of having a few drinks at the bar you were pampered as you passed the time?

Hong Kong Style Hot Pot with ‘chimney’ in the centre

Amazing… some foreign things do not have to be strange or bizarre, but amazing and getting out of our home countries and experiencing things make life more interesting and exciting. What foreign custom would you like to adopt?

One last plug for the Canadian Blog Awards… they close Nov. 1st. I would appreciate your vote for best expat/travel blog… you can do that here. Thanks and figers crossed I move onto round 2!

If you would like to participate in this weeks photo challenge or see more things foreign check out WordPress.

Stay tuned… there is always more!

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cost of Shanghai June 2012

Jennifer over at My Sardinian life posted a grocery bill on her blog to show how much some basic items cost at the grocery store. Alyson over at Algarve Blog  did the same, so I thought I should follow suit here in Shanghai. When we first arrived things were cheaper here than at home, unless you wanted to buy Western. A box of pop tarts cost maybe    $1.99 at home, but here they are 42 RMB (renminbi) which is over $6.00! Prices have increased over the last 2 years and salaries have not been able to keep pace with the inflation. Things seem to be about the same cost as home or more sometimes. As my co-teacher says at least I am on a Western Salary and not local salary (which can be 1000 – 3000 RMB for the majority of low wage earners. That is $150-300 a month). Eating out is often cheaper than cooking and staying in. If you look for the 2 for 1 deals then it is definitely cheaper to eat out! We eat at a few local places too and they are less than 120 RMB for the two of us (or under $20 that included drinks and we are stuffed!).

This week I got home late and it was pouring rain. Instead of running the 10 minutes to the store I ordered in dinner and the trusty sherpa delivery guy brings it hot, fast and to your door. The 45 minute estimated wait was only 20 minutes. Element Fresh does free delivery and the food is good and fresh. It is mainly salads and healthy sandwiches and fresh juices. It is a little pricey, but the portions are big so I had enough salad for lunch the next day.

Lafa Bread Salad with Chicken

123 RMB

The cost was 123 RMB for the salad and a fresh mountain cranberry pear ginger juice. About $18.00. Bit much but saves cooking after a long day or going out in the rain. Divide that into 2 meals and not bad value.





Today I went to the grocery store and bought a few things. We shop at Carrefour, a French chain or City Shop which sells mainly western goods from the US and Germany. Carrefour caters to the locals and has a small international section, big meat department, and also sells household items and electronics. It is like a Grocery/Wal-Mart with everything. City Shop is small and is more expensive for most things… you pay big time for the imports.However, they have organic farms so it is better and cheaper to get some of their produce. This is what I got today.

2 bags full

This is all I could carry. I walk to the shops about 1o- 15 minute away. I have a granny trolley, but didn’t think it would be too heavy so I carried these bags. It looked like rain and was thundering so the trolley would have slowed me down.

For 181 RMB ($27) I got some green peppers (2 for 5 RMB about .75c), Organic salad mix (10 RMB or $1.50). Last time I bought this at home it was $4.50. 4 bananas (9 RMB $1.40), German Pretzel fresh-baked (4 RMB .60c), gourmet packet of instant coffee in caramel -YUM (22 RMB for 10 packets $3.30). I usually get Maxwell House Instant and that is between 45-56 RMB for 42 packets, but it is not as tasty. Regular coffee is really expensive and just not the same since you can’t get cream. Chicken, skinless leg slices, I thought they were thin breasts. Oh well it was good and much better than the cheaper stuff I usually get at Carrefour  (21 RMB just over $3). 2 large tomatoes (6 RMB – .90c), apple chips (2 bags, 12 RMB each bag $1.80). They are good as a snack or to put in my instant oatmeal which comes mostly plain. They just added some flavours of oatmeal -some purple chestnut or corn on the cob! I am NOT kidding!, Granola bars (35 RMB $5.25) the most expensive thing usually. I can get a cheaper brand at Carrefour, but didn’t want to walk all the way there in case it rained.  Baked Cheesies these are so yummy and a treat once in a while. Today when you buy one you get one free… I love these little surprises! (45RMB each, but today for 2 $6.75).

What would all this cost at home? Probably a lot more. I know I rarely came away from the grocery store less than $50 at home. It is easy to spend a lot here, but if you are careful it isn’t too bad. So what did you buy today?

Stay tuned for more next weekend… my adventure to the art gallery!


Categories: everyday occurances, post a week | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

Well without any explanation the new challenge was posted and the theme is blue…

Blue at first thought means sadness and loneliness… then I looked around my wardrobe and home and saw most of the things that I own that are BLUE… My wedding colours included a turquoise BLUE,  most of my clothes are BLUE and I prefer writing in blue ink. All this BLUE doesn’t make me sad, so time to readjust my thinking and think BLUE…

In China the city maintenance trucks are blue and the city workers all wear blue… I see it every day, but that is not my favourite or first thought of things blue; they didn’t quite fit my image either. Further reflection (hee hee link to the unofficial challenge from Ailsa at Where is my Backpack?) I thought about why I like BLUE so much.

Living in Shanghai for almost 2 years now I realized maybe why I tend to steer towards BLUE colours… I miss BLUE 😦 ‘What are you talking about?’ you may wonder… well I miss the BLUE sky. It seems to be cloudy, smoggy or dull and drab so rarely do we see BLUE sky. The sun is a little orange disk that you can stare into and when you take a photo it is so faint it barely shows up, only visible to the naked eye. I miss the BLUE sky, fluffy clouds and bright sunshine that I used to take for granted.

I also love a beach holiday with sun, sand, and surf… the turquoise blue waters…. so soothing for the soul.

So here is a collection of photos in a slide show to represent  BLUE… I guess I am feeling a little BLUE after all 😦 but these pictures show my fav BLUES…

One shows the amazing skyline taken from the World Financial Tower with no blue sky 😦 but the view is amazing.

Another is bright blue Christmas lights from last year (2010) at Thumb Plaza near our house in PuDong. With little clear sky and so much light pollution stars are also rare if not impossible to see. These lights made me think about driving up North or in the country back home and seeing so many stars that the night sky just glistens…

And the ultimate blue… at the beach on a picture perfect day in Cuba 2008.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stay Tuned… so many ideas of what to post about next…

As always play nice and please ask before using or reproducing any images or text 🙂

Categories: Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unofficial Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection

Hi All,

Again I had a great picture in mind of a small pond that was like glass reflecting some amazing images of fall colours… I don’t have a copy of that here in China, so I started looking for something in the archives. I came across this one and thought it was fun and you can get a glimpse of me 🙂 That is me behind the camera.

We went to the World Financial Tower last winter which, is currently the tallest building in Shanghai (but not for long its rival is about 2/3 of the way up and growing fast!). There is a lot of cool buildings on the Pudong (New Area) side of the River, especially in the Lujuizai (Lou -Jazz- Way) area where you can see the Pearl Tower, and Jinmoa Tower. WFT (not wtf!!!) It is also called the “Bottle Opener” because of its rectangular opening near the top. You can go to 3 observation decks one of which has a glass floor to see the road below. In one area I happened to look up and see a mirrored or polished ceiling and I took this snap of us and other ‘tourists’ walking by.

Reflection 😉

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, post a week, strange adventure, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Under Pressure

Thank you to all the new readers, followers and “likes” I have picked up over the last few weeks as a result of the weekly photo challenge and the ABC award (thanks again Jennifer). As I sit here and watch my blinking cursor flash and wait to move across the page I feel the pressure to write something smart, fun, witty, clever and entertaining enough to keep you wanting to come back to my humble blog. With new popularity comes more responsibility and pressure to write and not just ramble on…

This blog was a result of coming to work overseas and keeping in touch with friends and family. I didn’t think I could do it, but with the encouragement from Amy and Mary I decided to give it a try. Each week I would have some hits and a few comments (thanks Freda & Leslie). The response that someone ‘out there’ was reading was enough to keep me going. I now enjoy writing and try to write something funny about our travel adventures so far from home. Writing has kept me sane as things don’t go as expected and common sense is not the norm here… experiencing these frustrations just make us giggle and say “now that will make a good story for the blog !”

I just reached a few blog milestones… 90 posts and 20 likes! Now this is #2 today. I did another weekly photo contest with the theme “through” be sure to check it out 🙂

So onto this week’s musings…

When we are away from home we sometimes get baffled by how different things are and experience culture shock. Some cannot handle the differences and complain about everything and question the diversity rather than revel in the experiences and soak up the culture. For some there is no place like home, but for others seeing what is out there is what gives us energy and excitement.  My husband and I are pretty open-minded travellers and rarely if ever have we been upset about the differences we experience in travel. The most important thing travelers must pack, and many forget, is an OPEN MIND.

In China even the simple things never work all the time or as planned. It is a part of life and you get used to it. Sure it gets frustrating when you hit print and go up 1 floor to retrieve your documents only to find it not there… When you switch on the light and it doesn’t go on… you go to have a shower and the city has shut off all the water for a few hours without telling anyone… But give it time and try again and it usually works the second or third time around.There are so many things we take for granted and until it doesn’t work we forget how easy we have it back home.

There are a few things that you sometimes cannot live without. No matter how much of an open mind you have there is somethings that you cannot compromise… mine is bathrooms and facilities. Going to a public washroom here you are taking your chances. Many are those little foot rests with a hole or if you are lucky enough to get a toilet bowl, chances are it won’t have a seat. Paper – forget it… you must carry little packs of tissues with you at all times! Stores sell those little 8, 10 or 12 packs of tissues like crazy! The smell is also disgusting. It always smells like sewer. Besides that you cannot flush paper here so the discarded tissue is in a basket or garbage can beside the toilet which doesn’t help the smell. For some reason the floor is always wet… I wondered why and if you watch the toilet habits here maybe it would explain a few things. Once in a long line for the ladies toilets a mother came rushing in and decided not to wait or ask to go next. Instead she pulled her kids pants down and she went on the floor! The cleaner yelled at her, but that did not matter. No one else batted an eye… common occurences? I guess so. A friend of John’s works for IKEA here and they said parents do the same in the store. They tell them that it is NOT OK, but they say my child had to go. I guess they don’t think ahead or make their child hold it until an appropriate location can be found. Children go wherever they are …

Traditional Split Pants

Traditional Split Pants

… street, store it does not matter. This is why those split pants come so in handy! Just last week at the grocery store a dad was holding his child over a potty! It looked like a little dog water bowl… I want to know where he emptied it! John once saw a man holding his son up to a garbage can and the child was like a mini ‘fountain’. It doesn’t stop there as grownups do the same. Many taxi drivers work 12+ hour shifts and use the bushes as their urinals, some places more than others… just use your nose and you can tell where. I am sure the street vendors do the same. Now I understand the street cleaners  and big water trucks that come and hose down the roads everyday.

Another thing we take for granted is toilet paper and tissues. They are not the same as home. Tissues are so thin you can see through them so god help you when you need to blow your nose. They try to trick you with the same name brands sometimes, but they are not comparable. Itchy, scratchy sand paper just doesn’t cut it… after trial and error we finally found one that is acceptable and although we are tempted by cheaper prices, or one on sale we have learned the hard way that it just isn’t worth it.

So what thing can’t you live without when travelling?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more…


Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, post a week, social graces, strange adventures, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,