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16/04/2013

8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About China

Although many tourists are within China’s provinces and regions (even the English version), this English version has distribution in over 180 countries worldwide. While some subscribers must be intimately familiar with China, many English readers residing abroad may not be aware of some of the more endearing nuances of modern Chinese culture. They will help you have an easy China tour.

1. Chinese people rarely drink cold water

If you’re going to order water at a restaurant, be prepared to ask for it cold. Most Chinese people believe that cold water is unhealthy, so it’s almost always served hot.

2. Chinese people have never heard of fortune cookies

Like billions of people throughout the world, I enjoyed “Chinese food” in my home country, and while living in Los Angeles, I frequented the Chinese fast-food chain known as Panda Express. The restaurant is famous for its delectable “orange chicken,” which is surely one of the most common “Chinese” dishes in America. When I arrived in China for my China vacation deals, I was excited to experience real orange chicken, but quickly found that even when asked for such a dish in perfect Chinese, waiters at every restaurant will be baffled. I eventually discovered a couple somewhat similar dishes of sweet chicken (some do it with pineapple like bolou ji kuai), but still Chinese people almost consider it a children’s dessert. Of course “Beef with Broccoli” is available at any Chinese restaurant in California, but most restaurants in China don’t even keep broccoli in the kitchen. The truth is that the Chinese people living in America since the railroad days developed a new, unique cuisine that appeals to more Western tastes than real Chinese food. Those American Chinese people even invented the “fortune cookie” gimmick to attract more customers curious about odd Eastern customs. The vast majority of common Chinese dishes are extremely foreign to the Western tongue. Scrambled eggs with tomato can be found in almost every normal restaurant in China.

At more formal dinners, rice is either served late, or not at all. Although Chinese people certainly inject a decent amount of rice, their cuisine is far more diverse in bases than you will find in the West. In addition to a zillion kinds of noodles, Chinese people often eat a variety of dumplings, hot pot, and kebabs all without rice.

3. Road rules vary with culture

Yes, green still means go. Due to the booming economy in recent years, China now has an unprecedented count of cars on the roads, but many newly affluent drivers are still novice to the concept of driving. On rural roads, cars share space with a historical slideshow of slower-moving vehicles, while in urban centers, drivers navigate seas of pedestrians. Those curious about reasons behind stereotypes Chinese drivers acquire abroad will be enlightened by visit to China, to see everyone “drive that way” in perfect harmony. The biggest factor is difference in liability at the scene of the accident. Instead of fault falling on failure to yield right of way, it will be decided by which vehicle sustains damage closest to the front. This means that when turning from your driveway onto a major street, you can freely cut off other drivers, and pull out into traffic confidently – trusting others to avoid rear-ending you. Traffic rules are more relaxed the further one travels from major cities, and driving in Beijing and Shanghai (these two are always contained in top China tours) is considerably tamer than in smaller locales. Those new to China may initially fear for their lives, but auto accidents are uncommon, and most often minor. If anything, rules disable drivers from moving exceptionally fast, since one must be ready to break on a dime if something or someone jumps in front of you.

4. There are more variations of spoken Chinese than descendents of Latin in Europe

To many in the West, Cantonese is the most familiar Chinese, but today almost everyone in urban areas and many rural areas speaks a dialect of Mandarin. But, for many of those people, spoken Mandarin is as different as a second language – as unintelligible to other Chinese as Japanese or Korean. For example, south-central Hunan province alone has dozens of variations of Hunanese which are mutually unintelligible with each other or Mandarin. What ties all Chinese together is the written form of the language, which explains why most Chinese television is captioned. On TV, in school, and in businesses, people all speak modern, standard Mandarin, or more accurately Putonghua, literally “common language.” Those in the north speak it naturally, and Northeasterners speak particularly slow and clear. Not coincidentally, the last dynasty, the Qing, hailed from the area. Mao Zedong is said to have had a heavy accent when speaking Mandarin.

5. Chinese students study English about 6 years in school, but most remain far from fluent

There’s little choice in foreign languages in China unless you want to pick up several. As mentioned before, to many, spoken Mandarin is essentially a second language, so English becomes a required third. The massive drive to teach Chinese people English is a tremendous drain on resources – of time, effort, and money – yet most Chinese people agree that English is an invaluable skill that boosts one’s earning potential. The demand for foreign English teachers is high.

6. KFC and McDonalds are on every corner in cities, but it isn’t “fast” food

I can’t imagine ever trying to find a table at McDonalds or KFC in America, but it’s an unavoidable battle when patronizing such establishments in China. It isn’t just that China has so many people or that these places are so popular. Drive-thrus are only recently beginning to pop up near new freeway exits, and most Chinese people couldn’t imagine eating in a car. Meals are far more of an event in China, people rarely eat alone, and they take their time. Such restaurants are popular date destinations, and students cooped up in dorms with five roommates prefer to study at McDonalds. A foreigner quickly eating alone at McDonalds invariably surprises surrounding patrons, but more so when he touches a hamburger with bare hands. Chinese restaurants are flooded at mealtimes, but ghost towns during the hours in between, while the American fast food joints maintain a steadier flow of people, evidencing the common notion that they serve junk food snacks rather than meals. Ice cream products are popular as well as pie, but you won’t find apple. It is easy to find to sovle your dinners when you are on the road of China travel packagesin China.

7. Chinese and Western versions of “Face” are reversed

Many are familiar with the concept of “face” related to reputation being central to Chinese culture. What is hard to grasp about it without living in Chinese is that Chinese people are only concerned with face from friends, family, and colleagues. They don’t care at all about getting respect or looking foolish in front of complete strangers and the general public. Westerners, on the other hand, are more concerned with their perceived image with the general public and strangers, while generally being less concerned with their reputation amongst family and friends.

8. The number Four is particularly unlucky…

…because it’s only a tone different from the word for “death.” Many buildings skip the fourth floor like designers avoided the thirteenth in the West. Six and Eight are lucky, the latter because it sounds like the word for “rich.”

If you want to know more, you can contact with China tour agents.

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