Monday, January 28, 2008

10 Tips for Chinese Success

I recently wrote these tips for a friend traveling to China in the near future:

1. Know the Chinese characters for man and woman. This will help you recognize and walk into the right bathrooms.

1.5. Bring your own stash of kleenex with you everywhere. (related to point #1)

2. Practice squatting and using chopsticks (not at the same time). Both are useful skills.

3. Trains are fun! But spring for a sleeper over a hardseat - it's worth it (hard, not soft, is fine and usually results in a more eventful train ride).

4. Baozi. (bow-zuh). Find it, eat it, thank me later.

5. Baijiu. (buy-geo). This liquor will kick your butt (and your stomach lining) - careful not to get into a toasting match with a businessman. You will lose.

6. Trust all things that come out of steaming circular basket stacks.

7. Trust nothing that resembles uncooked greens. (woe is the salad!)

8. Lots of curious people will say hello to you! Say hello back, and make a friend.

9. Standards of vegetarianism should be relaxed heavily in China. For instance, tofu covered in pork sauce may be your best bet at any given restaurant. (though eggs scrambled with tomatoes tend to be a popular menu item).

10. Lines are full-contact sports. Grandmothers will elbow you. Do not take offense.