Part Three –
A feast for the eyes… and the stomach!
If you are a newcomer to China, then most likely you will be sightseeing and taking photos of everything and anything you see: stallholders proudly posing (be careful as they may charge you for taking the photo!), stallholders sleeping in the afternoon sun, shops, buildings, people, even strange-looking food, and all because it will seem different from what you are used to seeing back home.
In terms of food and household goods you can buy almost anything, including at many foreign superstores such as Walmart, Jusco, Carrefour, IKEA and B&Q. For all the time that I have lived in China, I am proud to say that I have never (not even once!) felt physically sick or had any type of food poisoning. In actual fact, I was advised by my GP in the UK before I left for China to stick to fresh fruits, vegetables and fish, and not to drink water directly from the taps. It’s all up to personal choice, and also different people react differently to foreign food. I mean I have eaten street food (such as Chinese style sausages, hot sweet potatoes or boiled eggs), without any problems and I loved it, but then I would not dare not touch some “hard core” street meat such as chicken feet or scorpions etc. (enough said!), however someone else may have no problems with that as well! So it really depends on individual choice.
For those of you who are used to eating “Western style” Chinese food in Europe and North America, it would be fair to say that you are missing something special, because Chinese food tastes better here and is made the best in China. For those of you who are homesick, you can get scrumptious Western food just about anywhere in the big cities, some even authentic. There are a large number of foreign fast food chains available, such as McDonald’s (over 800 outlets countrywide), KFC (over 1300 outlets countrywide), Pizza Hut (over 200 outlets countrywide) and others in small numbers (Taco Bell, Papa John’s Pizza, etc).
For someone who has been living in a environment full of fast food chains, I would doubt that this kind of food would be what they would want to eat in China!, but you know you would be amazed that when you are homesick after a few weeks (in most cases people are), your stomach will start craving even the simplest of home foods, and then you may end up going to either Hong Kong or Macau!
China has many beautiful public parks (which you have to pay for, usually about 2-3RMB per person), and you will find people doing exercise in the early morning and evenings. Elderly people can be seen in large groups practising slow “samurai” style movements with a Chinese fan, carefully orchestrated by the sound of instrumental Chinese music in the background. It brings a delightful air of cheerfulness to the observer. During the holidays all the parks, places of interest and other attractions are crowded and busy, but it’s not people pushing or shoving each other – it’s as if you are in a huge fun-fair gathering.
I guess it’s these kinds of minor but important things that make China a truly magical place, and you only realise how much you are missing it all when you are back home thousands of miles away!
Part One: Overview
Part Two: An emerging giant
Books by the author
Newcomer’s Handbook Country Guide: China: Including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen (First Books, USA, Summer 2008)
China: Business Travellers Handbook (Stacey International, UK, October 2008)
Buy Navjot Singh’s books!
Newcomer’s Handbook Country Guide: China
Including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen
Paperback, 292 pages
2008, First Books
Gorilla Guides: The Business Traveller’s Handbook to China
Paperback, 332 pages
2009, Gorilla Guides