A first-person account of a trip to Beijing: I’m pretty amazed by the hospitality in China, especially how it keeps getting better and better. It’s not just the hospitality, it’s all the little things of general people behavior.
People AND cars are following traffic rules. I was eating in the food court in the mall and of course it’s crowded. It’s hard to find a place to sit. I’m saving a seat for my husband. Tons of people came by to ask if the seat was available. Years ago, people would have just sat down. People would have just towered over you until you were done – not making lunch enjoyable.
I went to use the bathroom in a mall and everybody let me go ahead because I was pregnant (well I assume because I was pregnant). That was pretty nice. I was riding the subway and a guy gave up his seat for me. I was at the Beijing Zoo and random elderly grandmas were giving me advice about my pregnancy (“don’t share a bed with your husband”, “start rubbing your nipples”)… feels just like an extended family. So far every cab ride has been pretty enjoyable. The taxi drivers have been all like “welcome to Beijing” (one cab-driver was singing the Olympics song with that title).
I had a pretty bad initial impression of China. The first time I visited China was visiting my dad in ShenZhen back in 2001. I remember as soon as I crossed the border, a group of guys surrounded me and as pulling on my bag. Of course I was a bit disoriented from the travel and later I realized they were “black taxis” just trying to bid for my business.
I was only there for a couple of days, but I remember shopping was a pain. If you touched something and didn’t buy it, people yelled at you. Initially I didn’t know how to barter and even without bartering, I’d think the prices was already pretty cheap anyways. When my host would hold me back from spending too much, she got yelled at by the seller. There was just lots of yelling wherever you go. And of course, lines – people just don’t line up for anything. Oh and the cigarette smoke was inescapable.
That’s probably why I don’t like ShenZhen much, because that was my first experience with China. But every visit since then to China has just been better and better.
I think it’s also easier to notice the change when I don’t live in the environment. So each time I come back I get a stark contrast. I think it was my second visit that I noticed the cigarette smoke was pretty much gone in doors. I think my third visit when I noticed everybody lined up and gave you mean looks if you didn’t.
Since I’m from Taiwan (well born in Taiwan, 老家 is still mainland) I tend to want to compare the mainland and Taiwan. It was easier back in 2001, when I used to visit both places. I’ve gone back to Taiwan maybe 7 or 8 times in the past, but I’m sure things have changed as well since 2001. What I can say is that the mainland is definitely catching up to Taiwan and fast. I remember a Taiwan that was very much like mainland and in some places even worse. I hope littering has gotten better, because there used to be garbage in every corner that I walked by in Taiwan. You don’t see that in the mainland. I remember every time I went back to Taiwan, I also noticed “change” or “improvement” but I feel like it was much slower than it has been in the mainland.
My fondness of the mainland people is definitely growing. I feel very comfortable here and I’m very happy tha people are so welcoming.