• Michelle Mattke

5 Things I Didn’t Expect While In Beijing, China:

Updated: Apr 15, 2018

The good, the bad, and what the?....

1) The toilet situation

Keep a roll of toilet paper with you in your pack back with you. Or even just a pack of tissues. Most hotels will have a “westernized” toilet with tissue, but most public places do not. In fact, the public restrooms are something you’ll need to get comfortable with real quick. When duty calls you aren’t gonna hold it all day till you get back to your hotel. Most public restrooms are an open stall. Yes, open. There are no doors. Then each stall has a metal pan angling down to a hole. You just have to pull down your pants, pop a squat, and do your business. Make sure you have your tissue paper, because there aren’t any in the stalls. For me, I just tried to keep my head down and not make contact with anyone.

Yup, you will walk passed old grandmas trying to poop. Just keep walking to find an open stall.

2) You have no idea what your eating, but it will be incredible.

Now, I love Asian food so I might be a little bias, but I was nervous because English is not entirely widely spoken in China. It’s not like Italy where everything is written out in Italian and then in parentheses written in English. So there was no English on any of the menus, and very rarely did a waiter or waitress know English. So you kinda left it up to fate. The nice thing is that the menus provide a lot of pictures. Nearly every item has a picture associated with it. So find a picture you like, and point to that when you order.

Truly, everything I ate was delicious. All with a picture point.

3) You don’t need to get wads of cash at the airport.

You’ll need maybe about 50 dollars worth of yuan when you arrive in China. I always go to my local bank and get about 100 dollars of the country’s currency before I travel. My bank does the currency exchange for free. Way better than paying a fee at the airport. You’ll need just enough for a taxi and a bite to eat. The rest you can get at an ATM as you go. They were easy to find in China and really user friendly. We had one right in our hotel! That way you don’t have to worry about it getting lost or stolen. Just get what you need every morning. It was only a dollar fee at the ATM. Rather than a 5 or 10 percent exchange fee at the airport.

4) People are obsessed with ice cream.

Now this was great because I too am obsessed with ice cream. But they have adapted restaurants to have walk up windows specifically for ice cream. It will be 9:00 am and you will see people with ice cream. Its also very easy to find. Seems that every other store advertises that they have ice cream. A giant neon sign can’t be hard to miss! And they have it from brands known to America. Cherry Berry, Ben & Jerry, Cold Stone, McDonalds soft serve.

They have it all!

5) Ma and Pa shops burn their trash at night.

Tye and I were taking an evening stroll after dinner one night, peaking our heads in the market stores. We were surprised to see that by the curb, out of every small market shop, there was a small metal barrel with its contents burning inside. Now I realize that this plays into the smog, but it was really cool to walk the streets at this time. It illuminated the street in a whole new way.

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