China and my first impressions!
Trip Start Feb 08, 2011
141Trip End Dec 21, 2011
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Upon arrival at the airport I kept trying to get money at the cash machine and wondering why it wouldn't give me any, then I realised that China's cash machines numbers are the opposite way around to the rest of the world! People also kept trying to speak to me in Mandarin and by the time I'd left the airport, I knew that I had to learn Mandarin quickly If I wanted to survive and live in China.
I went at shopping with Wing (one of my language partners and her friend- Stella) in GZ and found many people starring at us, wondering why 3 Chinese girls were speaking in English in China and many were very curious and questioned Wing about my origins as I spoke perfect Cantonese to them but then spoke to Wing and Stella in English.
Money! If I thought that Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand were expensive, China esp here in GZ is nothing compared to them or the UK, for instance, my fave Biore facial scrub costs between 40-70p in the other countries and her in GZ it costs a whopping 3-4 quid (so considering the local salary is only 200-300 quid per month, the price is extortionate) and I found Pantene and Vidal Sasson to be almost 7 quid, that's outrageous (even by UK standards). I now wished that I'd stocked up on beauty products before I'd got here. In fact, when I do a visa run I will!
I find that the Chinese behave differently towards me than other 'obvious' looking foreigners, even when they realise I'm foreigner, they like to speak to me in Mandarin, even though I tell them that I don't understand and they can speak in English (as they speak in English to all the other foreigners) and secondly when they won't speak to obvious looking foreigners, they'll speak to me even though they know that I don't understand Mandarin.
We complain that in the UK that banking is not free due to excessive charges, now I'm in China, I really know what's not free banking- when you have to pay to withdraw your own money no matter which bank you go to and it can cost upto 5% of the withdrawal amount!
The number 4 in Chinese is a very bad number as it sounds like 'die' and is avoided by all Chinese peple and I found it rather amusing to see that the 4th, 14th and 24th floor were all missing in my block of flats but my block numebr is 445! I truly don't understand Chinese logic, why go through the pain of omitting all floors that have a number 4, only to stick the number 4 onto the block?!!!!
I have to say that the Chinese are very generous Wing tried to pay for everything for me despite being a student and not having much money, she was so sweet!