In my last post, I talked about the things I would miss about life in China. But the long-term travel life isn’t just one big vacation where you spend all of your time seeing world wonders and sipping (chugging) piña coladas on the beach. It gets so difficult at times that you’ll question whether or not it’s really worth it. It is, I think. So while there are a lot of things I’ll miss about life in China, here are the main things I’m not going to miss at all.
Lack of Food Diversity
I’m used to living in a place where I can, at any time, go out for Italian, Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, American, and pretty much any kind of food you can think of and not have to travel very far. I hate to say it, but food in China isn’t very diverse. Good, yes, but diverse, Nah. You can find Italian-ish restaurants, but the pasta doesn’t come close to what Westerners are used to. Mexican is pretty much non-existent here unless you go somewhere like Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong. And even then, it just doesn’t compare. The fast western options include KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Pizza Hut. After a while, these get old. This has probably been the biggest drawback to life in China, for me at least. I have to have a Mexican fix to stay sane.
When the sun goes down or it starts to rain, the internet speed drops like nobody’s business. If you want to stream anything like music or a movie, you have to do it earlier in the day. That can be a problem too depending on work schedules. Note: This is true in Wuhan. I’m not sure elsewhere, but I’ve experienced both slow and fast speeds at hotels in the tier 1 cities.
Needing a VPN
While we’re on the topic of the internet, let’s talk about VPNs. I’m so glad VPNs exist at a pretty cheap price because without it, I wouldn’t be able to access Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Netflix. Yup, China blocks the websites that pretty much make the Western world go around. While I’m thankful I have a VPN, I’m not going to miss having to connect it to use these sites, especially at night. Certain locations work at different times, so it’s common to have to disconnect, connect to a different location, disconnect, and repeat until you have a decent connection. Half of the options fade at night thanks to the slow internet, including the only location that bypasses Netflix’s proxy ban (I use ExpressVPN. It’s advised to keep the location “secret”, so message me for the location that bypasses Netflix.).
Too Much Change
I always think change is good, even if it’s out of the comfort zone and strange. But when it comes to simple things like a certain product a store carries or an entire store that exists, I hate it. I will often discover a new place, and a month later, it disappears and is replaced with some hair salon or something else I don’t care about. I’ve found products – mainly foods – that I love and missed from home, and a week later, the store no longer carries it. I’ve learned to snatch things I see right then rather than telling myself I’ll come back and get it. You never know, and it’s so frustrating, especially when you make a special trip.
Going for a walk in China is more interesting than going on one in America. Trust me, you’re going to see some stuff. But it’s definitely not as peaceful. The sidewalks are often covered with holes and tiles that look as if they will collapse at any moment. I’ve seen people topple over a piece of sidewalk that just wobbles and sinks a few inches, ready to give in. Some parts of the sidewalk are actually holes in disguise. And you don’t realize it until you step on the brick or tile and your foot sinks down into a huge puddle of water mixed with who-knows-what.
Not Being Understood
I also mention this in my previous post about the things I’d miss about life in China. It’s sometimes a huge advantage when people can’t understand you. But half of the time, it’s a major downside. Thanks to not being able to speak Chinese or not being understood when I speak the little Chinese I do know, ordering food is difficult. Getting a taxi to the right destination is sometimes near impossible, and communicating with co-workers can be very frustrating. It’s all a part of the travel experience, and it really does teach you how to think outside the box in order to get anything done. It builds patience like no other too.
Life in China Means Pollution
In America, not once did I think I’d miss deep blue skies and puffy white clouds. Until I moved to China, of course. It’s no secret that there’s a major pollution problem in this country, and you see it nearly every day, especially during the winter. The skies are never the same shade of blue you get back home, and the clouds hardly have any texture. I couldn’t quit staring at the sky when I went back to America, and a lot of people thought that was weird. It’s the same deal with stars too. So don’t take it for granted, people!
Life in China is interesting and exciting, but like I said, it’s a challenging one if you’re a foreigner. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. So if you’re considering a temporary or even permanent life in China, don’t let these scare you off!