When we were going through the initial Embassy visits, the endless reams of paperwork and all the trips back and forth to Panama City, it truly felt as if we would never reach China. If felt as if the visa to visit China would never be within our grasp and each day as we waited it seemed close to impossible. The rules and regulations seemed endless, confusing and uninviting. But somehow through what I can only describe as perhaps a Christmas miracle, we got what we needed at the nineth hour and landed in China on the 3rd January 2019.
With this being my first visit to China, I did not know what to expect. My only point of reference being books from when I was a child, fragments from internet/TV and meeting Chinese people in other countries. Thankfully I came with an open mind and an adventurous attitude.
Below are a few initial observations after living 12 days in Foshan :
1. There are very few foreigners especially women, so I get stared at a lot and even photographed/video’d. My way of handling this newly acquired cell phone holding paparazzi is by smiling and waving.
2. People are very helpful and in most cases friendly. Even if they do not speak English, they still want to help as much as possible. If they can’t speak English, they will try find someone who can speak the language or they will use sign language, point or use a translating app.
3. For those learning English, they want to practice as much as possible. So getting stopped in the street with a hello, how are you, where are you from type of conversation is the norm.
4. Very little use of hard cash here, most people put money on their WeChat app and pay for restaurants, supermarkets, clothing stores etc using this app.
5. Pedestrian crossings are a chance to play chicken with oncoming cars who generally don’t slow down. I was told that drivers legally have to stop for pedestrians but seldom does this happen.
6. In shops, most people will follow the queue system whilst others will go around it to the front and totally ignore those already in the formed queue.
7. The driving is mostly good but can be rather hair raising in parts.
8. Everyone has a cell phone which they are constantly using whether walking, sitting, riding or driving. Each cell phone has a myriad of apps to assist with communication, shopping or taxis.
9. All motor vehicles look brand new and generally spotlessly clean. The cars all have dashcams.
10. The fashion is fascinating with most women wearing a frilly styled blouse, lacey or silky long skirt, thick stockings / leggings and chunky lace up shoes or sneakers. Jackets or jerseys are all oversized to cover everything. Each women carries a beautiful handbag (generally a pirated Prada or something similar).
11. People are very brand conscious. Most surprising was finding brands such as : Starbucks (every few steps), Walmart, Burger King, KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, H&M and IKEA.
12. The supermarket food especially the fresh fruit and vegetables are of a high quality and brilliantly clean.
13. All washing is hung on a rail in the apartment window or balcony (if available). There are no tumble driers to purchase.
14. The packaging of products is done so beautifully that one immediately thinks that it is an imported item, but when upon closer inspection it is in fact a litre of milk or a normal soap bar.
15. When a new store opens, flower arrangements are placed around the entrance. This is to bring good luck/good fortune to the store. More flowers, more luck.
16. There are tons of malls, almost every second block has a big mall with different shopping options for all.
17. Karaoke (KTV) is very popular and often used for team building.
18. Pavements are divided into a walking side and bicycle/scooter side. The sides are not always adhered to, so one has to be cautious when walking along.
19. There are many bicycles and scooters being used by males and females for transportation or delivery of food or online purchases.
20. At night, the city is awash with light shows which go up and down buildings along with brightly lit advertisements.
21. The hairstyles are diverse from short back and sides to man ponies/buns or more conservative hairstyles. Majority of men are clean shaven or have what seems to be no facial hair.
22. Smoking – a lot of smoking and this is allowed almost everywhere.
23. The city is very clean and tidy, except for cigarette butts which are found scattered on the floor in buildings and pavements.
24. Whether walking around during daytime or night, it is safe.
25. The drivers in Foshan love to do U turns, not sure why, but they do.
Follow my journey
I hope that you follow my journey in China with more posts to come - focusing on the people, fashion and buildings.
Feel free to share this post or leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
Much Love, Jen