Besides the adventures we've already discussed on our web pages, we had lots of other interesting experiences in China. For example, Flat enjoyed picking out pearls at the pearl market and browsing the shops of the hotel. On this page, we'll reflect on some of the highlights.


The Children

We found that children everywhere love to have their picture taken with Flat Stanley. In America, children often put on goofy smiles or give silly waves when they see a camera. We found that many of the children in Asia assume a formal, serious pose when getting their picture taken. Although the child in the photo above may not seem like she's smiling, she was having a great time at the Great Wall.

The children are clearly a focus of the family. We'd heard that most families only had one child, but we saw many families on vacation with two children like in the photo on the right.


The City

As we walked along the streets of Beijing, we were amazed at how much it's like any other big city in the world. We saw cars, buses, shops, and street vendors. People were dressed in everything from business suits to jeans and sweatshirts. Signs for restaurants like McDonalds, movies like Spiderman, and brands like Polo and Sony could be seen everywhere. Overall the size of the cars was smaller, but we did see quite a few gas guzzling SUVs just like in America.

We took taxis and buses to get around the city. Short-term international visitors aren't allowed to drive. Although most signs in the city were in both English and Chinese, with the heavy traffic we were glad we didn't have to drive.


In the picture above (right), you can see Arrion holding our bags after one of our many shopping adventures. We used a mixture of cash and credit cards just like we would if we were anywhere else in the world. We got our Chinese money from the ATM cash machine located right in our hotel.

We could almost believe we were in Toronto Canada, Sydney Australia, or Seattle Washington. Aside from the obvious differences such as the Chinese faces and language, most of the differences were subtle. For example, there were bicycles everywhere.



The Food

The food in China was similiar, but different from food in the US. For example, check out the sign from inside the McDonalds. It's in Chinese. Notice that their chicken sandwich contains the skin. In most American restaurants the chicken would be skinless and grilled or breaded. We went to a buffet in the hotel for breakfast. They had one area for Chinese food and another area for Western food. It was all great.



The Sites

We loved our trip to the Great Wall. Beyond the wall itself, the part we really enjoyed was seeing the mountains. We'd like to go back another time and visit more small towns and areas with fewer tourists.



The Misconceptions

Before arriving in China, we did a lot of reading on the Internet and in tour books. We had a pretty good idea what to expect when we arrived. One thing we read about was the bathrooms. Many of the tour guides said that toilet paper wasn't provided. We found that most public places like hotels and restaurants provided toilet paper. Only the heavily used tourist areas such as the Forbidden City didn't have toilet paper. The local people come to events prepared with their own supply. The woman in the photo on the right carried some in her backpack to give to her son.

Another thing we'd heard was that communication could be a problem. In the tourist areas we visited you could almost always find someone who spoke English.




The Surprises

We were surprised how comfortable we felt in Beijing. There were lots of security, military, and police people around that made us feel safe, but not overly restricted.

Flat enjoyed seeing all the children at the tourist sites. We thought maybe we wouldn't meet many children since we visited in the middle of fall.

We enjoyed seeing all the ways that people used bicycles. From maintenance wagons to flower carts, people of all ages could be seen riding bikes. Two and three people often rode on a single bike. Bike repairers set up business on many street corners.

Use the arrows to go forward or backward through the story.
Click on Flat Stanley to return to Flat's Main Page.

Developed by Annette Lamb, 2/03.