After one year, 39 rides, and 30,000 miles I’ve learned a little about traveling in China:
1. Communism is not your friend so don’t be surprised when it slaps you in the face.
2. Always listen to Jason Eady while boarding trains.
3. Savor and cherish random acts of kindness like a rare jewel.
4. Wear long sleeves or elbow pads on planes.
5. The taxi will show up 30 minutes early in Shanghai, right on time in Beijing, and who knows in Wuhan.
6. Invest in a washable and well fitting dust mask. It will be more handy than a pocket on a shirt, also quite useful.
7. Be ready to sweat no matter the season.
8. Chengdu street food is amazing.
9. Always request a window seat on trains.
10. Don’t eat anything on the plane, ever.
11. Learn to poop whilst squatting.
12. Download WeChat and didi apps.
13. Throw anything away with a power button when leaving the country.
14. Expect VPNs to not function.
15. Remember Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are evil conspiracies trying to take over the world one ‘like’ at a time.
16. Don’t take it personal when elbow checked in lines and don’t worry about knocking over the grandma cutting you off with her bag.
17. Buy two pair of noise cancelling headphones.
18. Reflect on the valuable lessons you are learning on patience, endurance, and tongue holding.
19. Make faces at all the babies starting at you.
20. Have fun and always search for your sense of humor.
21. Stay home if you have blonde hair.
22. What would Jesus do?
23. Don’t carry large battery packs.
24. Always bring something without a battery to read.
25. Have plenty of money in WeChat.
26. The trains always leave on time and planes rarely do.
27. Marvel at the efficiency of just about everything.
28. Parking garage attendants take their jobs very seriously.
29. Always listen to Waylon Jennings while inside an airport.
30. Didi is from heaven.
31. All the Chinese airline apps are useless.
32. China Eastern kiosk only takes passport number. Use it.
33. There is a rule for everything and they are always changing.
34. Sanitize everything three times.
35. Airline loading and offloading is a contact sport. Be ready and take no prisoners.
36. Try to smile.
37. Don’t ever buy water from the stores. It is a third of the price at vending machines.
38. Remember that forty years ago everyone was wearing gray and riding a bicycle.