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China: A Country Full of Surprises – 10 Travelers Share Their Culture Shock Moments

This article invites you to step into the shoes of adventurers who journeyed to China and encountered a world unlike any other. From the bustling city streets where personal space takes on a new meaning to the ethereal haze of urban landscapes, join us as we uncover the candid tales of culture shock that paint a vivid picture of traversing this remarkable nation. Through their eyes, explore the unexpected facets of China that left these explorers both astounded and enlightened.

1. Marriage Market in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOV 23: Busy street in the old town of Shanghai. November 23, 2010, in Shanghai, China
Editorial credit: Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

One solo traveler shared his incredible experience. He stated that in Shanghai, he came across a marriage proposal market. Hundreds of parents in this market carry the pictures and resumes of their children so that they can find the perfect match as a life partner. This market looks like the floor of a busy stock exchange, and it really is surprising to outsiders.

2. Personal Space Is Not A Thing

BEIJING CHINA - APRIL 19 2013 : tourist crow shop and sightseeing at shopping street

One gentleman shared his experience of a queue. He stated that he was standing in a line outside the ATM. He left a distance of about 5 feet between the person in front of him, which is an understood rule in America. One man came and filled this space; then another came, and so on. Then the gentleman came to learn not to leave this gap. “In China, you need to ignore comfort zones and push yourself up against the guy in front of you while resting your chin on his shoulders.”

3. Taking a Taxi in China

HONG KONG - JANUARY 2, 2019: Taxi driver with four smartphones
Editorial credit: badahos / Shutterstock.com

A man stated that he is a businessman, and he usually visits China for meetings and trips. The very first time he used a taxi in China, he faced some unusual events. When he was in the taxi, the taxi driver continued to pick up passengers from different locations until the taxi got full. And it took one hour extra to reach his destination. It was surprising for him because it is a common rule of one passenger per ride.

4. Public Toilets Are Unusual

Beijing, China - April 26, 2010: Neat beige with brown roof modern public toilet cabin along street. Maintenance worker in blue uniform on site. Man in photo, too.
Editorial credit: Claudine Van Massenhove / Shutterstock.com

One man expresses his views on public toilets in Shanghai. He said he needed to go to the toilet and he found toilets at a few steps, but they were really gross, having a one-inch pool of water all across the ground, and the smell was awful. There were no cubicles, no walls, and no tissue paper.

5. Confused as a Professional Athlete

BEIJING - OCT 13, 2013 : Many visitors walks on the greatwall at weekend. The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world.
Editorial credit: Bankoo / Shutterstock.com

One gentleman had quite an interesting experience while touring China with a group. He said, “I’m a 6′ tall black dude, and according to our tour guide, black people are incredibly rare to see in China. (This is relevant to the story.) So, on the day that we were going to see the Great Wall, I just happened to be wearing a football jersey (American football) I brought with me. Apparently being, relatively tall, black, and wearing sports apparel is enough for some Chinese people to think that you are a professional athlete.” People started gathering around him and asking for his autograph. The crowd grew so big that it blocked the passage of the Great Wall of China. And the management asked him to leave the place so other tours could enter. 

6. Revenge At The Spot

BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 31: Woman with protective mask rides bike on a busy street in Dongcheng District on March 31, 2013 in Beijing
Editorial credit: Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

Another person shared an interesting story of an individual taking justice into their own hands in China. “There was a driver of a car who rear-ended a guy on a bicycle and knocked him off. There was a big clamoring around the scene until a crowd of people took hold of the car driver and the bicycle driver jumped into the car and drove over the foot of the car driver as the crowd held him into place. The bike driver (who just drove over the one guy’s foot) got out of the car, thanked the crowd, and pushed his bike away. The car driver (who just got his foot ran over) limped back to the car and drove away.”

7. White People Are a Surprise In Rural China

China, Hainan Island - December 1, 2018: Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park, Wedding photo session of Chinese couples, editorial.
Editorial credit: evgenii mitroshin / Shutterstock.com

One American stated that he was invited to a rural village wedding in China. When he appeared at the wedding, people started watching him like he was an alien. He even became more important than the bride. All the guests were requesting him to take pictures with them. This is because many of these people had never seen a white person before.

8. Escalators In Wuxi

Huizhou, China - November 2016: A store "Nanhu" Branch of Gome Electrical Appliances in Huizhou city
Editorial credit: Chintung Lee / Shutterstock.com

One tourist stated that when he visited a shopping mall in the city of Wuxi, he saw cartoon memes with pictures of Obama, Jackie Chan, and other famous personalities and something written in Chinese. His girlfriend explained the surprising fact that these cartoons and memes are placed there to make people aware to watch their step getting on/off the escalators as, apparently, lots of people get sucked in and die/wish they died. 

9. Can’t See the Sky in Beijing

air pollution over Beijing, China, 2015
Editorial credit: designbydx / Shutterstock.com

One traveler shared that in Beijing they could not see the sky due to the smog. The air pollution index of Beijing is so high that people cannot see the sky at times, which is surprising to outsiders.

10. “Please Speak Chinese or English” 

senior asian woman talking on cellphone, appears to be disappointed, upset and unhappy
Editorial credit: imtmphoto / Shutterstock.com

One expat shared a peculiar experience while living in China. “I’ve lived in the expat community in China for about 16 years. 10 or so years ago, one of my Mom’s Scandinavian friends was talking on the phone in her native language. After the person on the other end hung up, they heard a Chinese person on the phone saying “Next time, please speak English or Chinese”.”

Source: Reddit

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