10 things I learned in China

  1. If they say 9:00, then 9:00 it is. 9:01 is never 9:00. The locals here are strict about the time. If it’s 8:40 on your ticket, the train is leaving at exactly 8:40. Be late once, then better be prepared to hear “Ah! You’re late!” instead of their usual warm, “Ni hao!”
  2. The art of bargaining. Chinese vendors tend to charge foreigners up to 70% more than the original price. However, they would eventually give in if you become too makulit in bargaining. Here’s one tip though: if you are not satisfied with their final price, you can just walk away. Count two seconds and they will call you back to let you buy the item with the price that you wanted. 😉
  3. Snickers is a better choice than Oreo. Because they are sooo much cheaper there. A regular sized Snickers there costs around 2.80rmb, which is around 28php only. The regular sized Oreos are being sold in 7rmb (49php), almost the same price here in the Philippines.
  4. Drink hot water. Because it’s safer. You can’t just trust the glass of water they serve in restaurants because tap water in China’s not that good, so they serve it hot, just to prove that the water they give you is safe.
  5. There isn’t such thing as a standard way to hold chopsticks. It’s all up to you. Each local has a different way to hold a pair of chopsticks. Whichever way you think will be the easiest for you — well, use it.
  6. Initiate a conversation, even if you are the foreigner. Locals tend to be a bit shy, especially when they are not too good in speaking English, so if you want to make friends, you better start talking to them first — politely.
  7. Taiwan is considered as a Chinese province. And even if they use Mandarin, their accent is very different from the people in Mainland. I didn’t know this until our tour guide pointed at huge standee of Lin Chi-ling (Jerry Yan’s ex-girlfriend…) and told us that she is from Taiwan — a province of China just above the Philippines. And I was like, oh… *me so dumb*
  8. Dumplings are considered as staple food. Dumplings there do not mix with rice and noodles. They are too heavy to be paired with other staple food — because these dumplings are also considered as staple food.
  9. Your student’s ID will be your best buddy. It is the key to endless 50% discounts on tourist tickets and such. Make sure it is always with you.
  10. Pick the middle bunk bed when riding the train for more than 8 hours. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view when you pick the topmost and the lowest bunk. Plus the hassle.

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