Posted by: Anna | October 31, 2011

Ten Things I Hate About You (China)

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

When I read this quote, I can’t help but think of China.  We were hardly ever comfortable in China.  In fact, China was one of the worst countries of our trip. I cannot recommend China to anyone for a vacation, unless the following are what you look for:

1. A complete disregard for others. Chinese people are rude. They shove unnecessarily. They cut in lines, all the time, acting as if they hadn’t noticed you there. The attitude seems to be “look out for No. 1”, making them oblivious jerks.

Fighting the crowds at the Forbidden City

2. Hard beds. Chinese mattresses are actually just boards. They look like mattresses, but it’s all an illusion. I have no idea how the rest of the world has discovered mattresses that are soft while China has not. We stayed in a dorm with a very loud snoring man. One of the Chinese girls sharing the dorm ended up sleeping on the floor of the hostel common area. When we asked her why she didn’t sleep on the couch, she gave us a look of shock and told us that she would be so sore from sleeping on something so soft! I do not understand.

3. Snoring Chinese men.

4. Very little English. I know it’s their country…but this is my list, and that’s one thing I  hated. If someone approaches you who does speak English, flee. It’s a scam.

Sometimes they try to speak (or write) English, with occasionally hilarious results. They wouldn't let us order Face Movie, so we don't know what that is.

5. Lost all the time. No/confusing street signs, terrible maps. It took us three hours (from 5:30 AM to 8:30 AM) to find a hostel that was less than a kilometer from the train station, where we started. Two taxis and 2.5 hours of walking with our backpacks – we arrived!

6. Greasy food. The puddle of liquid fat left behind after every meal is gross. Soup, noodles, stir fry….always a puddle.

7. Nothing fun to buy – only cheap, cheesy souvenirs or expensive Chinese art-y stuff. I don’t need a giant calligraphy of my name in my house, or my name on a grain of rice, or a Chairman Mao mousepad. Thanks anyway.

8. Travel agents buy all the good train tickets, leaving only a handful for those of us foolish enough to try to buy tickets from the train station instead of paying their fees.

9. Beijing taxi drivers refusing to use the meter, or take us at all. I know the taxi should be 20 yuan. The driver will take me for no less than 300, even though he’s legally required to use the meter.

10. Censorship. A month of no facebook, blog, CNN, internet videos, ESPN, etc….frustrating. The largest nation on earth without unfettered access to these things…shocking and disturbing.

Bonus – did I mention how rude the people were?

Ten Things I Don’t Hate About You (from Tommy)

1. Strangers, whether they be waiting in your line or walking near you on the stairs, are admittedly jerks in China. But when you ask for help or just engage someone in conversation, they were as friendly as any other people that we’ve met. Except Fiji.

2. Pandas.

And even better - baby pandas.

3. Cheap, good haircuts. I got my head shaved on our first and last days of China. Neither cost even $4 and one came with a shampoo.  Anna even got a good haircut for less than $6.

4. The hard Chinese beds make the Japan beds seem fabulous, though they’re probably mediocre.

5. A plethora of public toilets.

6. We saved some money by not buying anything, since there was absolutely nothing of quality to buy.

Here's some junk for sale by an "antiques" dealer in Xi'an.

7. Delicious hot pot and the best enchiladas since Russia.

8. McDonald’s soft serve cone – 2 for less than $1. Add to that dried kiwi and grapes dipped in sugar. Plus, they had Dairy Queen. Probably the best dessert location of the trip.

Our best discovery - fruit dipped in sugar and sold for almost nothing. Grapes covered in sugar? Delicious!

9. Excellent hostels. Great for meeting people. Lots of board games, free wifi, towels and reasonable tours. Great, except for the snoring Chinese men.

10. Hmmm….I tried to come up with 10. Did we mention how rude the people are?


Tommy’s Haiku (Anna declined)

Pushing and shoving;

Don’t make me retaliate;

I’m bigger than you.



  1. This post made me miss China. Anna’s list made me miss it more than Tommy’s. Also, I miss Engrish and its unfettered humor (“Face Movie” is awesome)

  2. Was it worth the trip to China to get to see The Great Wall, Forbidden City, and the terracotta army? China has never been on my bucket list…looks like it will stay that way! XOXOXOOX Kita

  3. I didnt realize you were such a natural in the art of Haiku. Very nice!

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