Many foreigners are surprised at the relative freedom they enjoy here in China. For those who have never visited before, scary images of censorship and soldiers can cloud an otherwise reasonable person’s mind. However, there are a few things that you should avoid doing or saying in China if you want to save time, money, or your own sanity.
Here are a few:
1) Don’t talk about the Chinese government to Chinese citizens
Whether Chinese citizens have an opinion about the government (or not), they’re certainly not going to tell you. Nor do they want to hear your opinion about it, however educated, cultured, or knowledgeable you may consider yourself to be. And on the off-chance you encounter a citizen who criticizes the Chinese government in front of you, keep in mind that it’s kind of like when you were a kid – while it may be perfectly acceptable to complain about your own mother, anyone else who does so is asking for a major smackdown.
2) Don’t visit zoos
Unless you a) hate animals or b) want a serious case of depression that makes you question the decency of the human race, don't go to zoos in China. My one experience at a Ningbo zoo was enough to sicken me for days – underfed, exhausted animals being whipped to stand on their hind legs, literally cringing every time the zookeeper raised his arm, the animals’ ribs poking through their fur. It was one of the saddest sights I’ve ever witnessed. Granted, I’m not a fan of zoos in any country, but China’s lack of animal rights laws is astounding, making zoos and animal “parks” places to avoid. And, of course, there’s the case of tigers being purposely starved in order to use their bones for wine (read article here). Definitely skip these “tourist attractions”.
3) Don’t buy high end electronics
Whether you buy the real stuff here (good luck) or the knock offs, you’re wasting your money. The authentic brands are sold at much higher prices than pretty much anywhere else. Even countries you think of as expensive, like the United States or Japan, sell the same items for cheaper. The only place to go around here for cheap, legitimate electronics is good ol’ Hong Kong. What about the knock offs? Sure, you can get them for decent prices in China – but keep in mind that the thing is likely to crap out on you in about a year (this has been proven by experience – both mine and others – many times). If you’re only staying in China for that long and plan to ditch your wares when you head back home, then it might be worth it – but it’s a gamble.
4) Don’t be too picky about how your food is prepared
You know those health code faces posted in restaurants – the ones that either have a happy faced (passed the health inspection with flying colors), the straight face (passed the health inspection) or the sad face (did not pass the health inspection)? Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are a lot more frowny faces than there are happy faces in China. That’s because food sanitation is simply not as big of a deal here as it is in other countries. It used to amaze me when I’d see a packed restaurant, their red sad face glaring out from the window. None of the patrons, happily gobbling away at their most-likely-ill-prepared-food, seemed to care the least that they were eating food cooked in, according to Chinese standards, a kitchen deemed unsanitary. So while you’re here, try to get over any remaining dirt phobias, or you’re going to be mighty hungry.
5) Don’t buy a VPN without doing your research first
Everyone knows that the way to get around blocked websites in China is to purchase a virtual private network (VPN). This routes you through a private proxy server so you can access things like Facebook, YouTube, and all your other favorite time wasters. However, be wary when shopping around for a VPN online. A lot of providers will gladly take your money whether their particular VPN works in China or not. I’ve known many dissatisfied friends who have dropped a decent amount of money on a VPN, only to find it doesn't actually work. So ask around and see if you can pinpoint a reliable service. Barring that, make sure the company you choose has some sort of return policy.
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eating at a street restaurant was very bad experience for me, making belly cramps for 5 days.itis very true that origional branded electronics are more expensive than many countries.if you plan to stay in china for more than 1 year itake enough clothes and shoes with you. these are of not good quality and often expensive in china.I wonder why people mension that drugs are cheap in china. i bought 5 panadol tablets fot 10 yuan, mm in india its price is about 0.1 yuan.
Mar 11, 2010 22:05 Report Abuse
Ref No.4. My Chinese wife told me to ignore the smiley faces for a different reason. Smiley faces can be bought, frowny faces can be given for subjective reasons like .................(fill the space yourself). My judge of a chow house is the number of cutomers. An empty restaurant at noon or 6pm is a very bad sign in China. A full restaurant is a better sign, and the turnover of food (freshness) is also going to be higher.
Mar 13, 2010 21:57 Report Abuse
In response to tip number 5, the Tor button add-on for Firefox helped me out a lot when I was last in China, it is a freeware program and allows you to access websites like Face-book with relative ease by simply changing your I.P. address' location. And in response to tip number 1, I strongly disagree. Today's governments are the same the world over. Take America for example, it could be said that America is a Democracy, but if you speak out against the American government you can also be arrested - just look at some of the people who have been silenced or even arrested for asking controversial questions at American political press conferences before being escorted out by security guards. (democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for dinner) No one has TRUE freedom of speech, not even in YOUR country so don't try to make out as if the Chinese people have closed minds and do not have the capacity to talk politics. I have some Chinese friends who happily talk politics and have the ability to think analytically.
Mar 15, 2010 19:00 Report Abuse
Sali, what exactly is unjust about this article? Do zoos in China really treat animals well? Do animals even have any rights here? Are you denying the fact that China blocks websites hence requiring the use of VPNs? Are you also denying the fact that China's food safety record is less than admirable? The article is not saying that China is bad. Most of us live here because we like it here and there are lots of great aspects and achievements China can be proud of, but the ones mentioned above clearly do have a grain of truth to them. Just get over it already.
Mar 17, 2010 04:22 Report Abuse
DON'T TALK ABOUT THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT ... unless you're pretty sure of the person you're talking with. On the other hand it's a pretty good way to weed out a certain sort of sheep from a certain sort of goat here and has its benefits. DON'T VISIT ZOOS Some are improving. The worst I saw was in Guilin, an aged and moth-eaten tiger which lived in a tiny cage and had its days spent with tourists sitting on it for photographs under the watchful eye of a keeper with a stick. The poor creature was so beaten it was hard to imagine it might savage anyone and the sight of its wretchedness hardly loaned itself to the happy smiling faces of the children who perched upon it. DON'T BUY A VPN WITHOUT DOING YOUR RESEARCH FIRST Better still... don't buy a VPN. There are freeware alternatives out there, my own a small program I simply turn on before I browse and turn off when I've finished. They are, needless to say, difficult to locate but you can do it, and the research time required is probably less than you'd need to set up a VPN in the first place.
Mar 25, 2010 19:47 Report Abuse
My god all laoweis know this is true. Hell one of my friends was invited to dinner the host took him and his dog up the stairs to the 6th floor and kick the dog off the roof. Guess what was for dinner. People always talk about rights in china. we all know there is no rights here noone cares about anyone or anything. I have lived here so long now nothing surprises me anymore. Anyways not my country
Mar 28, 2010 04:26 Report Abuse
Your comments on zoos i think are a little unfounded. Have you visited the zoo in Guangzhou?The animals are freeroaming.Also in Sanya the zoo there are Ok.Mainly tigers and crcodiles witha few football playing elephants thrown in.. The dog race you could place bets on but the dogs only walked!! Your article seems you possibly havent had very much experience of good chinese food. And your being a little harsh on what china is really like.I have lived here for eight years from Harbin to Sanya. The only time i had really bad food was in KFC.
Mar 29, 2010 17:17 Report Abuse
Man, you clearly are dilussional! Worst meal was at KFC? I got it, you have a Chinese girlfriend and wanted her to read your post. Good boy. Give your head a shake man. We all know the difference here and we all have had crap food from time to time. You don't need to pander to anyone. Stop saying what you think they want to hear, grow a set for fuck sake!
Oct 18, 2011 23:50 Report Abuse
A very good article. Well, most of laowais haven't been familiar with chinese way yet, their earliest edcation of telling lies, cheating none chinese in several manners and getting up with lot of cover ups. So, whenever you see things unfair, l'd advise and suggest you to take it as you see cause it'll take million years more to teach or correct it, it's life here. most of my made in china mostly lie to me, such as my DVD will tell me no disc while there's but, it was very costly and, good number of restaurants here are as the article said. But, they hate critizism and to be criticised. But, one major thing they fail to know is that, ' A WISE ONE' learn from this act of criticism. l'm not talking about their government, cause l'm sure that whenever their system of informal system education learn lying at teens age improves, the government will, too. l love china for her infrastructural and peaceful development. Treating animals in the zoo bad as the article said is one of the signs to show the heart of been inhuman, insincerely friendship and less blood touching practising here in secret high places.
Apr 01, 2010 18:34 Report Abuse
The zoo in Dalian is also pretty darn amazing. The tigers have more open free roaming space than any U.S. zoo I've visited. [except the San Diego Zoo]. I hope more zoos in China either shape up or close down. Also, China's demand for Ivory is eradicating elephants. The media needs to educate the country to stop buying animal skins, food etc of wild animals to save them from extinction.
May 05, 2011 06:23 Report Abuse
I love the stupidity of some of these comments. As for my own (stupid) opinion... I give my opinion on the Government all the time I say they are just as stupid and corrupt as my government back home in America. Most of the people I talk to agree with me. I eat out at restaurants all the time and by western standards they are disgusting and would have been shut down long ago but the food tastes great and I don't get sick so no problem. Zoos here make me want to cry granted I have only seen 2 Tianjin Zoo and Shanghai Zoo and if the Shanghai zoo can't get it right I don't see much up for smaller zoos but if I find I nice one I will certainly come back and say so. The electronics thing is kinda dumb as I think most of us live here and we aren't going to fly to another country to buy a TV or computer.
Apr 19, 2010 04:48 Report Abuse
well surprise how people comment negatively about china. infact i have been to countries around the world but the kind of warm recception and friendly people i meet here in china is amazing. how better do you think your country is to china? never talk about china as if your country is full of angels.
May 01, 2011 23:50 Report Abuse
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