A word about Chinese toilets and toilet tissue

This was a serious stress point for me as I prepared for my trip. After I had agreed to go I was told to practice my squats and pack toilet paper.  What??!!! Why??!!!  Because they have a lot of squat style toilets.

I did quite a lot of research regarding this. Not a lot exists about this. I am guessing because a) men don’t have to worry about it as much and b) women don’t talk about it as much.

Firstly I was told squat toilets would only be in the rural areas. Big cities and places like airports and train stations, tourist areas would have western toilets. Lie! Beijing airport AND train station both have squat toilets. Forbidden City, Great Wall, 2008 Olympic tour, all squatties. All the restaurants in Beijing and Jinan have had squatters and everyplace on campus has squat toilets with, blessedly, the exception of our dorm room.  This isn’t so much a deal breaker but I appreciate having the most and best information I can.

Men, it is my understanding that you will have the squat type as well and possibly no urinal. I think that is about 50/50. Also, 99% (not an exaggeration) of these toilets will not have tissue of any kind and you will need to carry your own.  They sell tissue here, of course, but I would bring a roll until you can purchase some. We stayed in a hotel in Beijing and were given about a third of a roll and no spare. I didn’t speak the language well enough to request more and had to use what I had brought for the public toilets!!

The public toilets will most likely not have soap or dryers. Most have a sink with cold water but no soap.  I carried hand sanitizer attached to my backpack to use after my cold water rinse off, thank you Bath and Body Works!IMG_0828

Most ladies carry around these tissue packets in their purse or pocket or just take the whole business with you if you will be gone for the day.

Side note: get a mini backpack if you don’t carry a fully size one or a cross body bag. A purse will not work well as these toilets typically do not have hooks and trust me, you don’t want to set it on the floor. Nearly everyone here carries a mini backpack.

I bought this on Amazon for $30 before I left and it has been indispensable!  You can get them all over China for $10 if you want to wait but I have had issues finding them with a big outside pocket for my cellphone.

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I picked up this cute crossover one for about $5. I love it and it is big enough for a water bottle but not my umbrella, which everyone here also carries. They are great for portable shade and can often skip the sunscreen. Sometimes being a girl is ridiculously complicated.  However if you have read my blog you have probably figured out I am not the kind of girl that can grab a backpack and head out for two weeks,  keep that in mind as well LOL

IMG_0831Note for the ladies: it is my understanding they do not have tampons here, only pads.  If tampons are your preference you should be sure to pack what you need. Personally, I brought everything I use normally just so I didn’t have to deal with finding what I wanted in another language.  On the right side of this picture you can sort of see the selection

IMG_0639Upside is, after you use up your toilet tissue and feminine products you have more room for souvenirs!

Bring your own medicine

Obviously you will bring your own prescriptions however some members of our party have gotten colds or developed intestinal distress if some sort. We have not found anything like NyQuil, Imodium, Zantac, stool softener or even Aleve or Tylenol. We haven’t even located a Chinese equivalent.  So if you are prone to anything like that, it won’t take up much space in your bag to throw some in. Just make sure it’s in its original package. I didn’t have problems bringing any of it with me but you never know if you get a customs guy having a bad day.  So have it labeled.

Honestly I thought the food would be difficult for me to handle but I haven’t taken a Zantac the entire time I have been here. I haven’t had any other intestinal distress accept when I ate too many cherries 🍒.  To be fair I think that was a side effect of the cherries and would have happened in America as well 😂

Another thing I have noticed is you can find plenty of junk food easily enough. Lay’s potato chips, chips ahoy 🍪 cookies, Oreos, coke, sprite, chocolate, muffins etc. My point is if you are afraid of the food and live on the processed American crap, you will also have distress of some sort.

Lastly, most of our party complaining of distress are drinking the beer and alcohol 🍺. Like several per night. I have really enjoyed the food with no alcohol and no distress. You do the math.

My Noodle guy 🍜

This guy makes the best stir fry noodles I have found.  He is very friendly.  He doesn’t speak much English but he can say Hello and Noodles? Rice? As he makes both lol  He works very hard and is out there stir frying over that open flame when it is 100 degrees.  This bowl comes to you all the way full and is 7 yuan, about one dollar 💵.  He has the veggies chopped and the noodles and rice cooked so he tosses in what you want and can make up your meal in about a minute. You can see the noodles portioned on the shelves behind him.

Not certain why the Hello Kitty apron. Hello Kitty still has a very strong presence here in China.

Interesting facts about the area

So on our trip to mount Tai on Sunday our tour guide was quite knowledgeable and was telling us that Jinan was named after the Ji river which ran to the north of the city. In Chinese nan means south so the name is literally south of the Ji river.   Several years ago do to a big flood the Yellow river washed out the Ji river and it is no more but the city remains.  The Yellow river now runs to the north of Jinan with mountains on the other three sides.  Because of these mountains, Jinan is a very long, narrow city only about 13 kilometers wide.  This make for bad traffic all the time.

Jinan is nicknamed the city of springs due to all of its springs of course.  With all of this water underground trying to get an underground transit system has been daunting.  They have one in the works and expect it to be up and running in about a year.  They have plans for a second, above ground system to run in about two years.  They are hoping this helps with the traffic issues.

Fun facts for my German side of the family.  The City of Qingdao (pronounced like ching-dow), about five hours away by car is on the sea and was settled heavily by the Germans in 1889.  According to our guide the city looks like a European city rather than a Chinese city.  He referred to Jinan as still being a village.  Not due to its size as Qingdao is only bigger by 2 million, but because it has stayed populated by the Chinese and has a more Chinese look and feel.

The Germans of Qingdao started a brewery in 1903 due to the great water in the area and created many jobs and the world famous Tsingtao brewery.  That brewery is the second largest in China today.  It is no longer owned by the Germans but the beer is served in most restaurants in Jinan today.

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Interesting shopping

I have enjoyed the night market just outside our west gate a lot. They show up each evening around 6ish and set up their tents. It is about the same wares each evening with everything from purses, undies, jewelry, makeup, clothing, street food and produce.

This is me just inside the west gate. The sign says University of Jinan.

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Best part of the night market is the knock-offs!!

The last one you have to zoom in on his shoe. Saw the guy wearing these at the forbidden city and that started it all.

People here wear tshirts with English sayings on them. Sometimes used incorrectly or spelled incorrectly or just make no sense at all.

Practicing my Chinese

I have been trying to us the little Chinese I know when I am out and about. I have been learning my numbers. They typically display costs in English numbers but they do have characters and hand signals similar to those in sign language.

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That coupled with hello, goodbye, and I am a mother/she is my daughter is pretty much all I got. But they really enjoy it when you try and hey if I can bring a little levity to their lives I feel successful lol🤷‍♀️😎

I guess I would reiterate my earlier statement of maybe learning the language a little before you come.

Paper cutting

Today we did Chinese paper cutting. It was as any paper cutting, challenging but worth it to unfold it and see the cool thing you created. The teacher does amazing micro cutting and beautiful creations. Ours were of course a bit more blunt and simple but fun nonetheless.

What we cut out could be a wedding gift meaning Best Wishes!

Matt, are his shoes cool or what??