Not every book for tourists has humor. Lots are coffee table books for armchair tourists. This book has us laughing out loud!
Ok, we never thought that the Chinese people carry around their own toilet paper in their bags, but I guess this is so! I asked our Chinese friend and he said that the country feels that toilet paper may be wasted if supplied in each stall (wasted also equals stolen) and that paper stored in the bathroom might not be as clean as that you bring from home. Who would have thought to tell me this before our trip? I've certainly sat down to take care of business before realizing the stall was out of paper! Now I know the toilet paper rolls in China are at the entrance to the restroom and NOT in each stall.
We've learned about "black" taxis and due to US travels we know this isn't exclusive to China. But now we are a more educated tourist. Our trip to China is June 2012. We are super excited and I am sure this book will get an update when we return.
In the meantime, if you know you are going to China - you will need to know HOW to potty and this book has a great explanation without getting too graphic. Excellent writing!
Update from July 2012.
We have returned from our nearly 1 month trip to China. To say this was an experience of a lifetime is inefficient. WOW!
We loved the parks. People go out at night and dance in the streets, the parks and other community areas. This is a very social time and people move to get some daily exercise. JOIN IN! They love participants. Don't worry about having two left feet, the enjoyment is the most important part. If you can, use the exercise equipment because it is made for adults and not children.
We loved the food. We were able to eat lots of variety. Because we were "honored guests" the Chinese served us a lot of meat. When we ordered on our own we asked for lots of vegetables. We were impressed by the quality of food as well as the amazing flavor. Pork will be the primary meat in China but duck is a close second. Don't leave China without eating Peking Duck. Heavenly!!!
Carry a bag. Men and women carry bags. Children carry bags. Don't listen to the GQ men's stigma that bags are just not masculine. You need supplies. Carry a bag.
You need to carry your own toilet tissue. These come in packs much like travel facial tissue. If an American did not know any different, the tissue packs will be confused with facial tissues (Kleenex). If you can get to a store find the small travel wet wipes. We found them in most stores but they aren't obvious. They are super helpful. Carry a pack daily.
Learn to squat. The best toilets are odor free. The worst smell like an outhouse. Every single toilet facility has an attendant. They mop all the time. It is best to not pee in your shoe so learn to squat low. Most places ask you to throw your tissue in the trash and not flush it. If there is a sign, there is a need to follow the rules. Western toilets are not common but they do tend to have less aroma.
Carry cash to China. It is the easiest way to convert to RMB. You can take travelers checks but don't count on your VISA being honored everywhere. If you do use a credit card, get a PIN for it. Cash withdrawls from your US account are not possible unless you have the PIN. If you don't know your PIN get a new one before leaving for China.
Take a translating software. We used iPads and an app for translating. The best ones allow the Chinese to write in traditional/simplified/pinyin to communicate back to you. Learn the app before you go. Simple phrases like "I am hungry" or "My room needs more toilet paper" are important. We will not travel to China without our iPads. We didn't expect them to be so helpful, they were actually indispensable!
Wear light weight clothing. Summer is hot and wet. Getting dry is important and wearing US weight denim pants won't cut it during the summer, they are too heavy. Take at least 2 pairs of broken in shoes. Your feet will sweat and the shoes will stretch. You will need time for the shoes to dry and shrink again. Socks are very important. Get some for hikers that dry very quickly and will help prevent blisters. If your trip allows, wear sandals. Dumping your summertime extra body heat will help.
Take Immodium AD. Don't try to find this in China, just take enough for your trip. A small first-aid kit was very helpful. Minor cuts happened. We were able to clean up on the go.
Take Gatorade powder. We opted for the lower sugar G2 version in individual packets. Sweating made electrolytes get out of whack which causes a headache. Building back the appropriate electrolytes was easy with a single bottle of water. Each person in our party used these twice a day. More profuse sweating people used more. Some of us dripped. The change in humidity, heat and elevation really played with us so we were glad we had Gatorade.
Parasols or light colored umbrellas will very handy, they are cooler than hats. Get these in China. Take a good pair of polarized sunglasses if you will spend any time outside. This was critical to our enjoyment. Sunscreen from the US was also key in not getting burned.
Plan for fun. Your suitcase will not be big enough to bring home all the things you want to bring. We took 3 to 4 days worth of clothes and did laundry. When we came home we still checked another bag. We visited historic places, current entertainment and learned from the locals how to make a proper tea ceremony with all the show.
Plan for fun. We loved our trip!!! Get this book to help cover the basics of how and where and what to expect. Then fill the the rest by your own desire. This book should keep you from the biggest pot holes down the road to an incredible journey. Need more info? Just comment and I'll come back to answer as best I can.