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Practical China Tips From Women Worldwide


Evelyn Hannon

How lucky I was to have Journeywoman readers willing to send me their tips before I travelled to Beijing and Xi'an. It made such a big difference to me to have these interesting bits of advice both when I was packing and while I was touring. Of course I'd now like to share what I've learned with everybody else in the JW network. Do you know other women travelling to China? In true Journeywoman style, why not pass this Asian travel information along to them as well?

Anybody have other Chinese tips? Simply e-mail your findings to: Put the words, "Chinese Goodies" in the subject line and we'll take care of the rest. Thank you very, very much everybody!

Don't forget to pack...
Going to China? Bring your own shampoo, deodorant, etc. There are a number of copy cat brands in China, so buyer beware. I have seen people purchase what they thought was a North American or European brand of shampoo and the contents where not and it was very damaging to their skin/ hair. Also, makeup as well as personal hygiene products are two or three times more expensive than what we pay for them here in North America. Stock up on what you need before you go -- if you have extras leave them for new friends at the close of your trip.
Pauline, Cambridge, Canada

Tiger balm and squatting...
It depends on where you are going -- some restrooms in China are still pretty primitive -- so be prepared. Take your own toilet paper and seat covers for where the toilets actually have seats. Most public toilets are the squat type so start exercising your thigh muscles and practice squatting. A small dab of Tiger Balm under the nose can be very helpful in dispelling unpleasant odors in the toilets.
Estelle, California, USA

Ed. note: I use my mentholated lip balm under my nose in "hard-to-be-in" washrooms. I also wear pants with tight fitting legs so the bottoms don't get dirty in the squat washrooms.

Explore Beijing's alleyways...
In Beijing, I took a pedicab "hutong" tour (arranged through our hotel), which was about half a day long and cost about US$45. We were taken through the alleyways of a 300 year old area in the second ring road where we explored the crowded neighbourhoods. Our guide took us into a school which had pre-schoolers all the way up to early elementary school age, then to a typical neighbourhood market and the home of a retired couple who had lived in the area their entire lives. The end of the tour was a tea ceremony at a traditional Chinese opera house. It was very informative and graceful and the tea was much welcomed on such a cold day. This tour is highly recommended. It was a glimpse into traditional China and a view to its future.
Trish, Singapore, Malaysia

Beijing in December was extremely cold -- many sites are old and do not have any heat. I suggest you take some extra clothing (I find silk long underwear lightweight and very warm) if you are travelling there in the winter.

P.P.S. You don't have to dress up at night no matter where you go.

Ed. note: I agree. When I was in Beijing in January I was very glad I had packed my silk longjohns -- I wore them not only outside in the cold under my pants but alone as comfy, light "loungewear" in my hotel room.

Useful websites...
In preparation for my upcoming trip to China I've started collecting websites that contain useful information. Other JourneyWomen might like to take a quick look at these two links - both seem very useful: See: -- a university site that contains helpful data about almost everything about the country. And, also, a site especially good for money matters.
Marion, United Kingdom

Blondes have more fun in Beijing...
I was in China for two months last year (around Beijing) and my flatmate taught English in Shanghai for over a year.

I got used to being stared at. As a blonde, blue-eyed girl, I was a fascination to everyone - from passing motorists to people on the

pavement. I found out that everyone will try and say 'hello.' Chinese people wanting to talk or practice their English make a great way to pass the time while waiting for trains, etc. Most young Chinese want to learn English - many can read and write it, but spoken English - from western teachers - is a special opportunity. Once you've madea connection with people (especially on the trains) they will go out of their way to help with the harder struggles unfamiliar to westerners (getting on the train - finding a 'hard seat', and if you feel comfortable - will watch over bags stored overhead while you run to the toilets). I found many a shared 'hard seat' (when there weren't any seats left) by chatting away with students.
Robin, Brighton, United Kingdom

For more about shopping, youth hostels, money matters, click here...





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