- It’s really, really far away…like on the other side of the world far away. You should pack some snacks for the trip….and definitely go to the washroom before you leave.
- You will stand out. Especially if you’re ‘Caucasian’ with white hair. It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo’, but the total opposite.
- Crosswalks are for dare-devils…unless your host insists that it’s okay for you to step out into traffic, ‘because the locals are terrified of killing a foreigner’.
- If you have a language barrier, giving them the ‘thumbs up’ sign of approval doesn’t translate. They probably think you’re asking to hitchhike.
- Massages are very popular there – everyone goes to get massages…but if a lady approaches you on the street and asks if you want a massage, say no. In fact, just walk away and pretend you didn’t see them.
- People will try to sell you Rolex watches that only cost $50 here….see above.
- $1 = 5 RMB (Chinese Dollars) and you should haggle down to less than half of any price for merchandise. Make a ridiculous offer, and when they say ‘no‘, just walk away – they’ll come and find you.
- You won’t find Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls on any menu, but you will find jellyfish, duck tongues, eel, snake, and other things you didn’t know you could eat.
- When your host offers you an exotic dish that you really aren’t interested in trying, it’ll get put on your plate anyway….and you better eat it.
- Forks and knives look like 2 sticks…it’s okay to stab your food with them.
- Don’t drink the water unless it comes in a bottle or has been boiled….just trust me on this one.
- Tea comes in 2 flavors; black or green. Both are safe to drink.
- There’s a lot of people there…like more than you can count. Even if you could, double it.
- The roads seem the same as here, but 4 lanes means between 3 and 6 lanes of traffic there, and the lines are only vague recommendations.
- The concept of personal space on the subway in Shanghai doesn’t exist. Have a mint before commuting.
- The police drive around with their emergency lights flashing, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere in particular, and no one gets out of their way. I don’t know what would happen in a real emergency….for example, if a foreigner gets run over at a crosswalk.
For more travel tips, check out my blog; ‘No Gravy for Old Men’.