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5 unique facts about China

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

Ever had a feeling that all your life you drew up a country based on someone else's feedback, someone else's stories and when you finally visit that country, your perception has a shift inversely proportional to the stories & feedback?

“ Since my childhood, I have been hearing & seeing the so-called odd food habits of Chinese folks. Whether be it in Discovery Channel or through some random voices who have never seen or eaten anything in China for real. I believed in them for a very long time. I believed in the stories of Chinese eating dog meat, mixing the gooey something from the snake's body into the tea, and eating just about anything that moves. I also believed that this drastic way of eating everything is absolutely wrong & cruel. Until this year.

China was not on my priority bucket list for traveling. However, an opportunity to visit China on business trip landed me in Suzhou. I remember my friends & families warning me to be careful while eating their local delicacies. At one point, even I was cynical & almost did not wanted to go there. Unsure about a hundred different things. The two items being constant on my mind was food and the language barrier.

I started preparing myself mentally by reading all the blogs Google could show for Suzhou. Is it different than other cities in China? Is there a much worse language barrier over there compared with rest? How easily would I be able to navigate around? What local delicacies can I dare to eat? To top-up, my over-thinking mind, one of the managers warned me that I might get lost if I travel alone in public transport. I was not terrified with this thought but nervous. I had all the necessary apps (Suggested Read: 6 must-have apps for Android users while visiting China in 2019 ) which I required to survive there and a schedule in place to be confident. So what could go wrong?

You remember the perception shift a while back? That's what happened to me in my three weeks of stay in Suzhou.

Fact# 1 : It's all about survivability.

The low expectation with which I went to this country was completely eliminated when I dared to taste the local food. Thin, hand-made noodles in a deliciously light broth with prawns and scallions, Mango with milk & sago, prawns dim sum, vegetable buns, sweet potato balls, sautéed cauliflower, pumpkin soup, yam fry, seaweed, and fried chicken. I loved every single dish I ate. I remember two Indians  in the immigration queue gossiping about the issues they have in China when it comes to food. China has a lot of vegetarian options and the taste is almost similar to Indian cuisine; a bit on the lighter side.

I had so much of vegetarian food in Suzhou that I was craving for meat. On a random conversation over lunch with a Chinese colleague, he mentioned that people do eat dog meat & all weird creatures in this country. It is their way to survive and their way to respect the food chain. Although in East China (Suzhou), this will be a rare occurrence.

Fact# 2: Love vending machines? How about ticket vending machines?

In every single subway station in China, you will find multiple ticket vending machines for purchasing ticket to travel from point A to B. It is such a convenient & quickest way to see the route you want to take & insert note/coin as per the amount shown. They have 'English' option as well for the tourists. The metro system in China is an essential component in the locals' life. Some cities like Shanghai & Hong Kong have a very mature & complicated metro system. You will feel lost and discouraged with the bustling of people, scratching your head to figure out which of the 13 or 14 lines to take. My advice would be to have a color printout of the English version handy of a city's metro system you wish to visit beforehand. You might be lost