Today I’m sharing an amazing guest post from Katie at Creative Travel Guide. Katie and her partner Calum have just moved to China and are here to share 10 things they have learnt so far!
1) I am a celebrity in China
Everywhere we go, we are stared at. And not just a quick glance here and there, but full on ‘get your phone out, take a selfie with the white people’ stared at. Supermarket, metro, cinema, gym; anywhere! Parents will also encourage their children to say hello in English too – super cute.
2) International food is everywhere
Before we moved to China, I was so excited to have Chinese food on the doorstep. It is great food but so is everything else! Perhaps that is a big perk of living in a city, but I didn’t anticipate how many different cuisines would be literally within a 5-minute walk from the apartment.
I have fallen in love with a Japanese Udon noodle place around the corner and a Korean hotpot place which has the best meat and veg ever! Plus, there is an amazing Italian restaurant just across the bridge from our place and I have just ordered some Mexican food for dinner whilst I write this post = food heaven!
3) Warning: Cross a road at your own risk
We discovered this on our first trip to China and it still hasn’t changed. Driving here doesn’t seem to have that many rules. In fact, the road itself often doesn’t have any lines painted on either and drivers tend to ignore all rules anyway.
This makes crossing the road a do or die situation. I have found a firm look ahead with a steady walk works well. But I have lost count of the number of times I have looked left, seen a car driving directly towards me and I’ve done a little stupid run to cross in time.
I don’t understand pollution. Here in Tianjin, it is strange. Sometimes, more at night, it can be very polluted. But then a few hours later it is crystal clear skies. I don’t know how it all works but I try not to complain!
5) App galore
Everything can be done on an app – and that app is normally WeChat. Imagine Whatsapp or facebook messenger but with a function to order food delivery from hundreds of restaurants. And pay for your electricity and water and gas bills. Or order a taxi. Even to top up your phone. And book train, flights and hotels. To book movie tickets. To split bills with your friends. To do your online clothes and food shopping. To transfer money to others. Even apps to rent a bicycle too. MENTAL!
6) Mini ghost towns everywhere
China is massive, obviously. But even in a built-up city like Tianjin, there seems to be random areas that are half empty. We live in an apartment complex full of locals and expats, with 8 different buildings and there is a fairly large shopping mall on the doorstep. However, half of it is still empty with no shops. There are random areas around like this!
7) Everyone is super friendly
On the surface, many may say the Chinese are rude. They are loud, they spit a lot and they do stare. However, they are the friendliest people ever! We often have people starting a conversation with us anywhere and everywhere and my colleagues are incredible! My teaching assistant helped me set up so many awesome apps and always goes out of her way to help Calum and I settle in. Actually amazing!
8) Children are everything
Working at a school, I have quickly learnt that children are everything here. With many families still only having one child, there is a real culture of the parents and both sets of grandparents being a big part of that one child’s life.
This makes teaching children a very different experience than teaching British children – both good and bad.
9) Life is amazingly cheap (but not SEA cheap)
Being from London, we can without a doubt say that China is hands down cheaper than anywhere in the UK. Bills are cheaper, transport’s cheaper and the food is miles cheaper. Our weekly fruit and veg market trip comes to a total of around £2! In the UK, the equivalent would be about £20!
It is also so cheap to order food here, you can get massive meals, including western food, for around £12, delivered straight to your door.
However, it isn’t as cheap as South East Asia – street food is a similar price, but any imported food or more western choices are more costly than they would be in places like Thailand and Vietnam.
10) Expect the fake
Near our apartment, we have a Kevin Klein. Around the corner, we have a Ralph Laura. When we moved, we were offered the TV Package – IPTV that gives you a load of channels from around the world – they aren’t fussed about copyright here either! Anyways, you get the picture. There are two types of fake here. There are some items, that are just flat out fake but there are other places that sell real items. Take Apple. You can get a real iPhone for half the price but in a fake store. Because China makes the product here in the first place, they have extra real products but choose to sell them on to copycat or fake retailers.
We have only been here 5 weeks now so our opinions may change a bit. But for now, this is what we have discovered and learnt after moving to China!
Thanks so much guys – love this insight into living in China.
You can find Katie and Calum here:
If you would like to guest post on Better Together Home then please visit my Work With Me page!