A Russian Girl Who Works in China Revealed Things Tourists Aren’t Likely to Notice (But We’ll Fix It)
Blogger Anna Stelmach moved from Chelyabinsk to the Shanxi province. At the moment, she works as an English language teacher in the kindergarten that both of her sons go to. Since the very first days, Anna has been in love with China and she decided to tell her subscribers all about it.
You won’t believe it, but we at Bright Side learned a lot of new stuff about China. For example, now we know why children need stickers on their forehead and why it’s not a good idea to order pizza there.
1. I can’t say “thank you” anymore.
In China, it is not a normal thing to say “thank you” for little things (especially to people you don’t know well). And if you paid money for it, then your “thank you” is completely not understood and it makes people feel shy. You’ve paid them money for it after all! For example, it’s not okay to say “thank you” in taxis, restaurants, and at the cash register in stores.
2. In China, people trust each other.
In order to have something bad happen to you in China, you have to be really unlucky. On the one hand, they pay a lot of attention to security: there are cameras everywhere and you need a special plastic pass to get inside your apartment building. On the other hand, I don’t quite understand who they are protecting us from.
I was really shocked to see that the packages that are delivered by transport companies are just left in boxes outside and are not guarded by anyone. You just come up to the box, choose your package, and that’s it. An ID? No need.
3. During Laba Festival, people marinate garlic.
Once, in a parent chat, I read this message, “It’s Laba time now. Eat Laba cereal, marinate Laba garlic.”
Have you heard about this festival? La is the name of the 12th month in the lunar calendar. Ba is the 8th day. 3,000 years ago, it was the celebration of the harvest. On this day, as I already said, people eat sweet cereal made of beans and marinated garlic.
4. Is white definitely the mourning color?
In many books, they say that in China white is the color of mourning and they recommend against wearing completely white outfits. Also, according to these books, presents in white wrapping paper are not a good idea.
So, I come to China and everything is white here. Especially the cars. All the people I know here have white cars. It looks like the most trendy color.
5. The New Year is celebrated in new underwear.
One of the Chinese traditions is celebrating the New Year wearing new clothes, as if you are leaving all your old stuff behind. Everything should be new, including your underwear and your puffy jacket.
And also, on New Year nights, the head of the family is supposed to put red envelopes under his wife’s and children’s pillows. They should include at least 100 yuan. Here, they teach children to love money and it’s not considered to be bad manners.
6. They can’t cook real pizza here.
In China, I don’t recommend visiting restaurants with western cuisine. It won’t be anything like the western cuisine you’re thinking of.
Pizza is cooked on sweet yeast dough, sometimes with fruit, and with a lot of other stuff. It looks a lot like homemade pizza when there is so much stuff on top that it is impossible to grab a piece with one hand: it just falls apart. So, you basically end up eating a warm salad.
7. During weddings, they scare away evil spirits.
Our neighbors recently celebrated a wedding. There was some red fabric even in the elevator. There were hieroglyphics of double happiness for having a child.
The entire yard was covered with the red fabric and surrounded with red lanterns. At the entrance, they put a red arch with dragons and elephants on the sides. Since 8 a.m. there were musicians and fireworks were set off. I guess they were probably trying to scare away the evil spirits.
8. Mornings and evenings are the times for sports and dancing.
The time is 6:30 in the morning. There are more people in the street than during the middle of the day. Mostly the elderly, but there are a lot of young people too. When I went out for a jog in the morning in Chelyabinsk, I always saw the same 5 (!) people. And here they are doing great, they run almost in crowds. Generally, they walk fast, some of them move backwards, and many people run.
Also, I have to mention the dances in the square. At exactly 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., music is turned on in all of the big and small squares. There are showmen wearing suits and white gloves that show the moves and everyone who wants to, repeats the moves. In the evenings, people often dance with bright umbrellas and fans.
9. In movie theaters, you will have to read subtitles.
In movie theaters, they show movies undubbed — in English with Chinese subtitles. It is strange that all Chinese people still don’t speak English! This is great listening practice.
Interestingly, in China, children are allowed to go to any movies. Often, when you are watching movies made for adults, there are children inside the theater too.
10. Regular Chinese people don’t drink tea and use hot water as medicine.
Here, they drink mostly hot water, especially the women. Some Chinese women don’t eat ice cream and don’t drink cold water at all. Because, according to Chinese medicine, cold is the yin energy. And women have a lot of it, so they make up for the lack of yang with hot water.
Also, in China, it is believed that hot water can heal diseases that we usually take pills for. If you tell a Chinese person that you have a headache or a stomach ache, that you have a cold or feel tired, 95% of people will say, “You should drink more hot water.”
11. In barbershops, several barbers might work on one client.
There are a lot of barbershops here, but if you go to a random one, you might be really surprised. The stylists might be good there, but the place could be extremely dirty. And also, there are salons that are really cool: every worker has a microphone to talk and all of the barbers wash their clients’ heads beforehand.
Every employee has their own job. One washes your head, the other one cuts your hair, the third one dyes it, and the fourth one styles it. There is even a special person who holds some of your hair while your barber is working on a certain spot.
12. Here, you’ll see children with stickers on their foreheads.
If someone wants to praise a child in China, they poke them with their thumbs on their forehead as if they are placing a stamp and say, “Zhēn bàng” (“Well done”). For good behavior, they get stickers. Can you guess where?
13. They have coffee-flavored ice cream and... corn-flavored ice cream.
Some kinds of Chinese ice cream looks like snow. And also, the way they serve this dessert is always too cold. You get it out of the freezer and it is either covered with snow-like-ice or actual pieces of ice.
Snow cones are cheaper. They can be made with cream or coffee flavors. By the way, I actually liked the corn and the bean flavors. They are unusual, but tasty.
Have you ever been to China or talked to people from there? Can you surprise us with some unexpected facts about this country?
Preview photo credit mama_laoshi / instagram