Don’t Forget Your Toilet Paper!
I found metro cards very useful when exploring in Chinese cities. Best methods of travel are the subway system and metro buses, but you will need to be familiar with the subway routes (etc) before you embark on one. And with both transportation, you need to be slightly more aggressive than you would in a Western setting, like pushing your way through the subway door to (hopefully) earn a seat! And for everyone interested, toilets in China are ranked too: personal experience, if anything, has led me to believe the worst ones are at shopping centers. Avoid them at all costs! I enjoyed the ones at KFC and McDs though, and luckily for Western travelers, these fast food restaurants show up everywhere. Air conditioning, by the way, is available in most Chinese shopping malls.
Oh, and while we’re at the topic of Beijing and Shanghai, these two most well-known cities of China are so often compared to each other despite that they have their own distinct traits. In the summer months, Beijing is like a flame-blowing dragon (interpret it however you like) and Shanghai is like a taking a dip in a hot bowl of oily soup. But hey – there’s one more excuse for ice-cream! Oh the fruity goodness of Da Hong Guo 大红果冰棍.
Things you didn’t know you need when you are out and about in a Chinese city….
The bare min:
- toilet paper – very few public restrooms are stocked with toilet paper (this author had a poor experience with Yi He Yuan’s lack of this accommodation). stay on the safe side because you never know.
- wet wipes, or cleansing wipes are good when your makeup is starting to glide off your face in the heat and are good for refreshing after a sticky-icky ride in a crowded metro bus or subway (but at least there is usually air conditioning in the subway ^^)
- hand sanitizers because the word has it that you can’t find them in the stores! and you might want to use them before a meal
- water is crucial when it’s hot outside and if you will be walking for a while
- parasol also known as the sun-umbrella- this is an effective that Chinese women do to protect from the sun and stay cool
- Beijing is plagued with seasonal dust storms so bring close-toed shoes that don’t mind getting dirty.
You might also want to carry:
- your own set of utensils if you are going to be dining in restaurants and from outdoor food vendors
- blotting paper if your face gets oily easily
- wallet – remember to have exchanged for Chinese RMB and bring your metro card too
- sunglasses so you are not getting premature wrinkles from squinting at signs and the glare from cars
Would you carry these items? Other essentials?