10 Unusual Things You Will Encounter in China

10 Unusual Things You Will Encounter in China

First time in China? Get ready to see some unusual sights – like motorbike cargos and babies with split pants.

China is a massive country filled with stunning natural landscape, rich and distinct culture and billions of interesting people. The country is fantastic but is definitely shocking to most foreigners who visit it for the first time. When in China, you will be sure to quickly realise that they do things differently over there. Here are ten unusual things that you may experience when travelling to China.

1. Babies with split pants

unusual things in chinaImage credit: Daniel Case

You need to see it to believe it, but many of the babies running around China will be sporting some pretty adorable split pants. Does this mean that all the babies are so active that they are splitting their pants right in two? Nope! In fact, they come that way. In China, diapers have not quite caught on like they have in other countries. The alternative are baby pants that have a split completely down the middle. When the baby has to go to the bathroom, they simply squat down somewhere outside and do their business wherever mom or dad can find a spot.

2. Motorbike cargo

Image credit: Let Ideas Compete

Motorbikes are the preferred mode of transport in China, mostly because they are fast and easy to maneuver around all of the traffic jams. It’s usual to see motorbike flooded streets but what is unusual is the cargo. More often than not, motorbikes will come zooming down the road with entire families of five squashed onto one bike. How the driver can balance the bike is truly a mystery. Bikes can be seen packed with dogs, caged animals, an entire month’s groceries or furniture and tools bigger than the driver.

3. Extremely good hospitality

Image credit: Jialiang Gao

Often initially unwelcoming, the Chinese people are extremely hospitable as soon as you get to know them. If they consider you a new friend, even if you hardly know them, expect an invite for home cooked dinners, lots of beer and gifts. Chinese people treat their friends with care and will do anything they can to make you comfortable and happy. Always expect a fresh pot of tea and plenty of snacks to be on offer whenever you enter the home or workplace of a local Chinese person.

Also read: Top 20 Tourist Attractions in China you Must Visit

4. Squat toilets

Image credit: Cvalente

Many people grow to like the squat toilets once they have worked up the nerve to use one. They are often intimidating only because most people don’t know how to use one. The squat toilet actually is quite convenient and sanitary. Sometimes the toilet part is taken out of the picture and replaced with a sort of alley to squat over and other times, the squat toilets themselves are not separated by doors, leaving you and a lot of lovely strangers to do your business up close and personal. Also take note that many public places don’t view it as their responsibility to provide toilet paper so make sure to carry some tissues around in your pocket and purse – that’s what all the local people do anyway.

5. Lack of traffic rules

Image credit: Jialiang Gao

There are traffic lights and there are signs but they don’t mean a whole lot to motorists in China. The streets often seem chaotic and vehicles drive and park on the sidewalk, even honking at pedestrians to get out of their way. Actually, pedestrians don’t often have many rights when it comes to sharing the road. Cars and buses might run you down so always stay on guard and be aware of what is going on around you.

6. Fireworks all of the time

Image credit: ludovick

OK, so the Chinese invented gunpowder. It was a major achievement and they haven’t forgotten it. Fireworks  and firecrackers are set off all of the time, seemingly for no reason at all. A favourite time for locals to catch some fireworks action is six in the morning of course! You will eventually get used to all the racket, which are initially frightening, when you spend enough time in the country.

7. Sharing of all meals

Image credit: Chensiyuan

Don’t even think about ordering  your own meal when you go to a restaurant in China. The meals are made to share and usually one person orders many dishes for the whole table. Most restaurants have a rotating platform so that people from all points of the table can take from the plates. Don’t worry yourself about the sanitation issues with digging your personal chopsticks into the food that everyone else is eating; it’s normal and perfectly acceptable. The meals will also come out as soon as they are ready so that everything stays hot and fresh. The more people the better because you will get to try way more dishes off the menu.

8. Pushing and butting in lines

Image credit: s tsui

Maybe it’s because the country has such a high population, but the amount of pushing and line jumping going on is pretty unbelievable. Watch the elderly get shoulder checked out of the way by women with babies. Adults push each other down at a chance to get on the bus first and people blatantly get in front of you in the checkout lines. No matter how hard someone runs into you on the street or in the shopping mall, never expect a sorry, that’s just not how it works.

9. The obsession with karaoke

Image credit: Vmenkov

Karaoke bars are absolutely everywhere and they are always full of locals. Get-togethers and parties will always have a time and place for karaoke. They take it to the extreme with guides to take you to your private room and bring you beer and snacks for as long as your throat can handle singing.

10. Spitting

Image credit: kattebelletje

The sound of ferocious hacking and expertly aimed spit is like the unofficial anthem of the streets in China. Whether it is just a country-wide habit or has some sort of historical or scientific origins, it seems like everyone here is onboard with spitting anywhere, almost all of the time. Be careful to watch your step so you avoid stepping in the hundreds of puddles that line the sidewalks and streets.

Interesting, eh? You have to experience China for yourself!

About Author

Shannon Ullman

Shannon is an American girl working towards a full-time nomadic lifestyle. She doesn’t like the idea of a 9-5 career and wants to blaze her own trail by travelling and working around the globe. She has a long way to go on her journey but is having the time of her life on the way. She left her country to live in China and has been moving around Asia for the past year and half. She is passionate about inspiring others to live their dreams, facing her fears, learning new things and visiting cat cafes as often as she can.