Hi there & welcome to BdaKiNE.com
Despite my Asian upbringing, I was not all that excited about going to China in November. We had previously been there in 2004 with the NBA and I felt like once was enough. I wasn’t looking forward to the long flight and the time away from home; this trip would be part of a seven week stretch of travel for us.
We are incredibly lucky to live in San Diego but we aren’t there very much so my choice would have been to either stay home or go someplace that I had never been before.
When I don’t feel like going somewhere, I often end up having a great time once I get there (see, there’s an upside to having low expectations) – I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had in Shanghai and Hangzhou.
China has changed pretty dramatically since we were there 11 years ago. Thankfully, the public bathrooms have improved and I didn’t have to be dehydrated the entire time!
Shanghai is still a massive city with totally cool architecture and a population of more than 24 million; this one city has more people than the entire state of Texas.
In 2004, people were still riding bikes everywhere, now more people are driving scooters and cars. Due to China’s economic growth, many Chinese are becoming fixated on material items and the perceived status that it brings.
The increase in motor vehicles is making the pollution even worse than ever. We were told that when Chinese people travel, the number one thing that they photograph is the blue sky because they rarely see it at home. In the two weeks that we were there, we probably saw a tiny bit of blue sky only once.
From Shanghai, we traveled to Hangzhou which is an hour away by bullet train. Even with a population of 8.7 million people, Hangzhou seemed rather quaint compared to Shanghai.
We stayed near the West Lake which is a popular tourist destination for the Chinese as well as international visitors. In 2011, the West Lake was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it’s “idealized fusion between humans and nature”. Hangzhou is also known for growing the best tea in China so we went to see some of the tea fields as well as sample crops at a Farmer’s home.
If you want to share photos and stories on Facebook with friends and family, don’t forget that the Chinese Government does not allow American Social Media so be sure to download a VPN app that will allow you to access your accounts.
Most Chinese have “Wechat” which is a combination of texting and social media. I used Wechat to communicate with our tour guides while we were in China. Since we got home, every so often I will check it out to see what our guides are up to!
Even though we stayed at a five star hotel, we were told to use bottled water to brush our teeth. I’ve gotten super sick from dirty water before so I am hypersensitive when it comes to the food and water in a foreign country. I tend to follow the adage “Unless you can boil it, cook it or peel it – don’t eat it.” Don’t forget to steer clear of salads and ice – save the mixed drinks for when you get home – stick to wine, beer and shots!
Aside from the usual items, here are some things to consider packing:
Over the counter health care items in the brands that might not be found in China: benadryl, pepto bismal, Pepcid AC, Tylenol, Advil, etc.
Cough Drops – the smog tends to give you a scratchy throat
Protein Bars – If you stick to the restaurants in your hotel and the cities with a lot of tourists, you’ll be fine with the food. If you go off the beaten path, a protein bar can save your tummy!
Hand Sanitizer/Wet Ones – Most bathrooms do not have soap or towels
Toilet Paper – Most bathrooms do not have toilet paper so be sure and bring travel sized toilet paper rolls or grab some TP from your hotel
China is an incredibly BIG, beautiful and diverse country that makes for a fascinating travel destination. Like any foreign country, their social norms are different from ours so if you can go with an open mind and a healthy respect for another culture, you will experience a lot of JOY because China BdaKiNE.
Thank you for visiting BdaKiNE.com and have a grateful day!