We spent our last 4 nights in Mainland China in Lijiang. Lijiang is another old city located in the Yunnan Province and full of Chinese tourists. We found it to be another hard city for a foreigner. The first night we walked around for 2 hours trying to find a menu in English or at least with pictures with no luck. We ended up grabbing noodle bowls from a convenience store and eating in our room. Here are some things we learned in China:
- China is a hard place for non-Chinese speakers to travel alone. With a tour group and a guide, travel would have likely been much easier. We just aren’t really tour group kind of people and they were way out of our budget!
- Chinese tourists in their own country are just like the tourists you run into outside of China. They are truly oblivious to those around them and will walk right into you. We can’t even count the number of times we were hit with a purse, elbowed in the side and poked in the head with umbrellas.
- Water sources throughout the cities we were in (Rivers, streams, lakes, fountains) were all used to clean babies, wash laundry, brush teeth, wash hair and clean vegetables. Perhaps this is why our stomachs didn’t feel too good the entire time we were there.
- For a pretty developed country with prices that rival those in the USA, we were shocked to find things like squat toilets in a huge, beautiful and modern brand new airport.
- Another shocker was the spitters. We had heard that people spitting on the sidewalks was something to expect, however we quickly learned that this was an accepted practice on the subway trains and inside buildings as well.
- The prices are HIGH! Coming from several months in south-east asia, we were shocked to find the prices in China so expensive. Things like entering a park, going up on a cable car, or entering a temple complex were typically at least $20USD each! Food was very high as well if you went anywhere with an English menu. We stumbled upon a Starbucks in a mall with prices equal to the US. We found non English-speaking drivers for the day to be well over $100 compared to the $50-60 for an English speaking driver that we had paid in other parts of South East Asia.
- There is a lot of beauty in China and some truly amazing places to see. There are just people everywhere and for us it wasn’t worth trying to fight the crowds. We skipped going to the terracotta warriors and the great wall because of this.
- People in China as a whole are friendly, they smile and stare and will try to help if they can, but more than likely they don’t speak any English and may just giggle and walk away.
- They like to stare! We often felt like aliens due to the intensity of the stares. Many starting at the feet and slowly moving their gaze up. We went days without seeing other foreigners so we were truly a novelty to many people.
10. We likely will not go back to China. It was a hard place to travel and we found it impossible to escape from the hoards of people.