OMG “kiasu” is defined on Google!!
From last year’s statistics, there are approximately 7.046 billion people on earth, out of which, 1.351 billion live in China.
That’s 20%. So technically, 1 in every 5 humans are Chinese.
As the world’s most populous country, the fight for survival is evident. Perhaps that is the main reason why the Chinese appear to be the synonym of “kiasu”. I’m half Chinese so I cannot deny that there is some truth is that. *laugh*
They say that a Chinaman will never go hungry, not just because he’ll eat anything, but because he’ll do whatever he can to make money – be it ethically or otherwise.
So is that a cultural trait or a racial trait?
Just like all stereotypes, we can verbally bash the poor Chinaman, but ultimately we know that not every Chinese is guilty of being one.
The recent trip I made to China was the very first time I set foot on real Chinese soil. I’d like to call it a very insightful work trip since the agenda was far from doing the typical touristy things (although I did manage to catch a glimpse of the Chinese panda, albeit the sleeping version).
Over the years, I heard so many horror stories about China, including (I warn you that the following content is not suitable for the faint hearted):
1) The eating of “baby herbal soup” to increase overall health and stamina…
2) Forced abortions…
3) Internet censorship…
…and the list goes on.
So heading to China for the first time was, shall I say, a trip that I wasn’t too overly enthusiastic about.
I suppose on the brighter side, I was somewhat mentally prepared. Having a few people I trusted on that trip (who were not first-timers like myself) was a bonus.
Besides the evident censorship of many internet sites and mobile apps (as mentioned in my previous post), something that you’ll have to get used to in China is public spitting, farting, nose-picking and open toilets (no doors obviously).
Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary leader and first president of the Chinese republic said in a 1924 speech, “Spitting, farting, growing a long fingernail’’ to pick one’s nose, ‘‘not brushing teeth,’’ in these things ‘‘all Chinese people are unrestrained.”
So if you’re heading to China for the first time anytime soon, here are a few things that I learned which you may find useful for your trip:
1) Getting a local SIM card
- If you’re using an iPhone or a GSM smart phone, the only telco you can use is China Unicom (China Telecom provide their cellular services on CDMA technology). If you can read Chinese, go to www.10010.com to view their list of services.
- You’ll have to physically go to their outlet/branch with your passport to register for a pre-paid line at CNY200. Be prepared with an address for the registration process (you can use your hotel address). The credit you have with this line should be able to last you for at least a month or two. Just remember to get your hotel concierge to help you call the help centre to terminate the line before you leave the country (you do not have to physically step into the telco’s outlet/branch to do this).
- Important to note: If you’re landing at the Guangzhou Baiyun airport, DO NOT buy SIM cards from the shop at the baggage claim area. They will try to sell a SIM card or top-up card at CNY100 with XX minutes of talk time and XXMB of data usage. That’s what I got conned to do, but later discovered from the telco that the number I had was actually a stolen line (registered under someone else’s name, I could’ve gotten into trouble for that!).
2) Getting around
- The trains are very efficient, and the routes are not difficult to understand, so if you have a choice, I’d suggest using the metro as a means of getting around as opposed to the local cabs.
- Download the free local metro app so that you can map out your route and see the names of the corresponding train stations in English. Very important! Mwahaha~ It also tells you how much your train ticket will cost, not to mention the time to destination.
- If you’re taking the train, be mentally prepared to push and shove your way through during peak hours. Most locals don’t believe in queuing up or staying in line for that matter, so don’t get shocked or offended if you’re being robbed of your spot or shall I say, personal space. Lol
- Getting around in cabs can be rather tricky if you don’t know your way around or speak Chinese. Don’t be surprised if you catch your cabbie driving you around in circles or taking a “longer” route just to earn the few extra bucks. Remember, there are 1.351 billion people in China that need to “cari makan”.
- Unless you’re eating at fancy restaurants or fast-food outlets, you can never be too sure about what you’re eating (or the degree of cleanliness from where it came from). What can I say? Avoid looking into the “kitchen” and say your prayers before eating. Haha.
- The food in China isn’t the same as the typical “Chinese” food you find in most countries so unless you’re adventurous, I’d suggest packing in a few packets of instant noodles for times of desperation.
- Apparently they still eat dogs in China (although I didn’t personally see it being served or sold this trip), so if you’re really scared about eating the unknown, just tell your host you’re vegetarian. :-D
- Not practiced. China is one of those fantastic countries where you’re not expected to tip, or no one asks for tips. Not even at the local foot reflexology/massage places.
- I was introduced to a foot reflexology place that charged CNY68 (about RM35-RM40) for 70-minutes worth of pampering - medicinal foot soak with head/shoulder massage, followed by a thorough foot massage. They even served complimentary Chinese tea and peanuts with that. *amazed*
5) Withdrawing cash from ATM machines
- You can withdraw a maximum of CNY3,000 (with a bank charge of CNY8) per transaction.
6) Doing the touristy things
- Do your research about the particular place you want to visit before heading there. Make sure you know how much the entrance fee is, and what your ticket/entry entitles you to. We almost got conned at the Canton Tower. A seemingly legit booth tried to sell entrance tickets to “go-up” the tower but it was actually to literally “go-up” the stairs to the foot of the building. *laugh*
- At the Xiangjiang Safari Park (where I attempted to catch a glimpse of the panda), you’re charged an additional fee to ride the tram, feed the animals, take picture with the koala (CNY50 to be exact; I went a step further and took a quick video before I was cut off by the zoo official), etc. Heck, they even auctioned the “picture” an elephant drew as part of the animal showtime. *shake-head-in-disbelief*
- The good news is that in the city, most public toilets have doors.
- Ladies, you may want to get used to the art of squatting and holding your breath for the entire duration of your “business” (however long it may take), before your trip to China. It also helps to carry tissue paper, wet wipes and paper soap/sanitizer with you at all times. If all else fails, just resist drinking too much water while you’re out from the hotel. Trust me, you’ll be thanking me for this. ;-)
Other than all that, spitting and chewing with your mouth open is normal in China, so if you need a break from being all prim-and-proper you know where to go. Lol
Will upload the video I sneaked with the koala this Wednesday, but until then, I hope I didn’t scare you too much. Haha. Big panda hugs. Mwah!
As you read this post, I’ll be in a place that is often considered the longest continuous civilization (some historians mark 6000 B.C. as the dawn of its civilization).
[Pictures from en.wikipedia.org]
Apparently the toilet paper was invented here in the late 1300’s too. Mwahaha~
Y’know I can’t help but feel relieved to know that despite its size (it’s the 4th largest country in the world after Russia, Canada, and the U.S.), all of China is in one time zone. No need to reset my body clock, nor go through what I dread most when travelling – jet lag. *happy-panda-dance*
China invented ice cream, and Marco Polo is rumored to have taken the recipe (along with the recipe for noodles) back with him to Europe.* I suppose that gives me a reason to eat more ice cream while I'm here. Excuses, excuses. Lol
It’s been a pleasant stay so far, with some new business discoveries and associations, amongst the panda street food adventures (very interesting since you don’t really know what are eating at times lol).
Looking forward to sharing some of the “Hungry Hannah” adventures with you soon but in the meantime, I’m resorting to Instagram to share my trip with you since this is what Facebook and Twitter look like in China…
If you don’t already know, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a host of other sites have been blocked in China…
…so it’s in a way, “social media detox” for me this month. Lol. I go through withdrawal symptoms for not being able to see, let alone reply your comments on those platforms. You have no idea.
In some ways, it’s also a trust exercise for myself and my team back home – I send them the pictures and quotes that I want to share with you, and they’re supposed to post it up on my behalf. Daily. Big effort to let go. Lol. Nevertheless, I know they’re doing a brilliant job so please be nice to HTAdmin and pleeeeease don’t get angry at me for not being able to reply personally okay? If you want to communicate with me personally, I’ll be on Instagram/this blog space for as long as the China government allows it. Lol
Oh and BTW, I have to mention that the iPhone 5s and 5c is officially out in China.
I see it everywhere but it's frustrating because you can see it, you can touch it, but you cannot have it!
There's no stock on the Chinese Apple online shop and the local Apple stores in the malls here that have stock at hand capitalize on the demand by hiking up the price by a mile for the 5s. As usual, the Chinese being Chinese, inflate the 5s prices to just under RM5,000 (rounded up according to the current exchange rate) for the gold coloured 5s. Haih~ As much as I want it, I doesn’t make sense to pay so much. What are your thoughts on that?
* Perkins, Dorothy. 2000. Encyclopedia of China: The Essential Reference to China, Its History and Culture. New York, NY: Checkmark Books.