Have you ever done strange things when you’ve traveled abroad?
When you go overseas, you’re bound to have experiences that are different from your own culture and country.
While living and teaching in China, I’ve had experiences that have made me feel as though I was on a different planet!
In China, many things are done differently and sometimes the rules don’t quite apply like they would back home.
I’ve highlighted below eight strange things you may end up doing while visiting China.
I’ve done most!
1. Fight for your spot in line
Cities such as Shanghai and Beijing are busy tourist spots filled with both Chinese locals and expats.
When waiting for the metro in Shanghai, there have been several times when I’ve had to push my way back in front of the person who budged me in line.
Lines do not exist in China. Sure, people might make a single file line while waiting for the metro, but once those doors open you’ll see the line quickly transform into a crowd.
If you find yourself in a crowd in China (which is pretty common), you may just have to summon the strength to push your way through.
Recently, I had an experience in a grocery store where the cashier served the person behind me in line because she personally knew him.
It’s an experience you’ll only find in China!
2. Go to a fish spa
For a small price, you can get a fish pedicure in China.
Fish spas can be found in popular tourist cities such as Xiamen and Xi’an.
This activity involves the Garra Rufa fish eating away the dead skin on your feet, essentially giving you an exfoliation.
This is actually something I’ve done twice and I’ve found both experiences entertaining.
The fish pedicure doesn’t hurt but it does tickle.
There are reports that the fish don’t really want to eat your dead skin – they do it because they’re starved and they need the sustenance.
So, it’s up to you if you want to give this strange thing a go!
3. Sing and dance
There are plenty of opportunities to dance to your heart’s content in China.
Once the sun goes down, you’ll find big groups of elderly and middle-aged Chinese women (and some men) square dancing in parks.
This is an activity that is both entertaining and helps promote exercise in China.
Even more surprisingly, square dancing happens practically every night.
Although I haven’t joined in yet, most dancing groups will happily welcome you to join them if you’re brave enough.
In shopping malls and airports across China, you’ll find the country’s latest trend – mini karaoke booths.
They’re the size of a typical phone booth and can fit one or two people.
Inside, you’ll find a variety of songs in Mandarin and English. Depending on the price you pay, you can sing for 30 minutes or even several hours.
Thankfully the booths are soundproof! Passersby won’t hear you.
There was one instance when I had an early flight at 4am. Since I didn’t want to find a place to sleep in the airport like many other people were doing, I decided to try out the karaoke booth.
For the next hour or two, I belted out tunes and the next thing I knew it was time for my flight!
Whether you do this solo or with a friend, I highly recommend it for the fun factor.
4. Drink hot water for every reason possible
Time and time again, I’ve heard Chinese people tell me that I need to drink hot water.
If it’s cold outside, I should drink hot water. If I feel sick, I should drink hot water.
From friends to co-workers to the doctor, it’s a prominent belief throughout China that hot water is the solution to many problems.
5. Make an unusual purchase from a vending machine
Vending machines are known for having a cold drink or snack that you can get on the go.
The vending machines in China, however, take it to a whole different level.
At the push of a button, you can find yourself with a new tube of lipstick or even a freshly squeezed cup of orange juice.
Although I have never purchased the lipstick, I have on many occasions bought myself a cup of fresh orange juice from the vending machine in a mall near my apartment.
It’s actually my go-to drink after a workout!
6. Have an adventurous camping trip
Camping in China has become a favorite pastime for those who are both adventurous and love the great outdoors.
With a little research, you’ll find many travel companies, such as Wanna Travel, that offer different outdoor adventures.
From camping on the Great Wall to camping on Shenzhen’s beaches, these travel companies offer it all.
If you aren’t a fan of the outdoors but have always wanted to try camping, there is the option of glamping.
This is the term coined for luxurious camping on a soft bed in a tent that offers things like electrical outlet plugs.
In the two and a half years I’ve lived in China, I’ve done glamping, camping by the ocean, and camping near caves.
I never imagined I’d have such amazing experiences in China!
7. Eat strange bugs
Eating bugs or exotic foods is a bucket list item that people usually say they will do, but don’t always follow through on.
In some of China’s big tourist cities, like Beijing, you can find scorpions, silkworms, dried snakes, and many other creepy crawlies. Most are on a stick.
Although it has always been on my bucket list to try scorpion, I passed on the one opportunity that I had to try it.
If you’re more adventurous and braver than I am, definitely try some of the edible bugs in China.
Or, if you’re not heading to China any time soon, check out this blog on some gross food you can find there.
8. Apartment hunt on an e-bike
Okay, perhaps this is a unique experience that only happened to me. But who’s to say that you won’t have a similar experience in China?
When I first arrived in Nanjing in 2017, coworkers gave me the name of a quirky real-estate agent who could supposedly help me find an apartment.
The agent’s name was Bamboo. This should have been my first warning!
Rather than getting a car or even using public transport to get to the apartments, Bamboo took me around the city on the back of his e-bike.
Although I didn’t end up choosing any of the apartments he showed me, I will always remember this experience.
It’s definitely one of the craziest things I’ve done in China.
You gotta love some of the strange things in China
Whether you’re traveling to China on a short trip or you’re staying longer, I recommend stepping outside your comfort zone.
Just remember to be open and not quick to judge. Chinese culture is very different to what you’re used to.
You may even find yourself trying some strange new experiences like I have!
I hope you liked my blog on some of the strange things in China. If you’re traveling to China soon, I recommend downloading these helpful apps on your phone before you go. It’ll make your trip easier and more enjoyable.