There's a city in the northern part of China called Guilin. It's supposed to be extremely scenic with mountains and rivers, that sort of stuff.
Classic image of Chinese scenery.
That's the thing. I'm not that big into scenery and nice mountains, birds chirping in the trees and the wind in my hair. Mother Nature hates me, causing me to be allergic to a ton of flora (amongst other things...) and I burn in the sun very fast. I love urban areas, big, crowded cities with skyscrapers.
But then my Dad got a phone call, which leads us into option 2...
My parents are fairly devout Buddhists. And recently a monk they used to pray with gave them a call. He's actually going to be visiting various temples in China in the summer and invited them to come along. My parents got excited.
See the video of this cat here.
This means more nature as we'll be climbing mountains, no meat and no internet. I'm sorry, but I'm a carnivore and I love my technology. Take both away and I'm reduced to a shell of my former self. Plus, if I'm suffering from heat stroke or having an allergy attack it's only going to help the "Zombie Damian" look.
But another thing that really bothers me is that it's another really expensive vacation so soon. My parents are willing to pay for everything again for another overseas trip that's going to last several weeks. Those aren't cheap and it doesn't sit well with my conscious having them pay. Even though I couldn't pay them back immediately if I wanted to.
Being a student sucks.
But last time I received quite a few questions. In no particular order shall I try and answer them, hopefully in my rambling below I'll have gotten to your particular inquiry.
We did go to a lot of places, I can't remember every single museum or historical area (doesn't help that so many of the names are in Chinese and my Chinese is kind of terrible) but one of the museums that really stuck out to me in Shanghai was wonderful. The entire building are sparkling clean, beautiful art in every room and what do I see as I'm walking? A man holding his daughter over a garbage can so she can urinate.
There was a bathroom not 5 meters to their left and they opted to use a garbage can. I think this was probably the clearest example of the difference between the mindsets of the rich and the poor. That, and some of the rural areas are kind of run down. One of the tour buses stopped through a town called Chengde and we nicknamed it "Creepy Town" because of how degraded and old the buildings looked. Meanwhile Shanghai and Hong Kong have gleaming 5-star hotels and massive malls.
But while we're on the topic of toilets I was surprised not to see any of the famous doorless bathroom stalls. Maybe we didn't go into any really rural areas, maybe they're being phased out, who knows. Beijing had these really funny bathroom rating system though. Based on how clean a bathroom was it would get a rating from 1-5 stars. From experience, 3 stars means clean but it still stinks, 4 stars is clean and little smell, do not enter anything less than 3 stars.
Use at your own risk.
Like at the Great Wall, oh the smell. We could smell the bathrooms from 10 meters away. And for whatever reason, female bathrooms are always, ALWAYS, worse than the male ones. Don't ask me why. The Great Wall itself is relatively hard to climb. The steps are uneven and you're going to have to lift your leg quite a bit even if you're as tall as me. I feel sorry for anyone short climbing this thing. Oh, and like any of the historical monuments in the Beijing area, expect cigarette butts and discarded water bottles all over the place. Maybe segments of the Great Wall are cleaner elsewhere but the part we visited was filthy.
As for cultural differences I didn't notice any in terms of physical contact. Though if someone brushes against you it probably be a good idea check to make sure your wallet is still there. But if you become squeamish at the sight of animals on display for food, avoid the live markets. They have frogs, turtles, fowl, fish that are priced differently depending if it's dead/half dead/alive and they will butcher the poor thing for you in seconds if you're interested.
And that's it for now. The trip is still tentative (aka. Dad is looking up airline tickets as I type this) and he wants to go for about three weeks starting at the end of June. I just hope I have internet...