You’ve heard the saying, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right?
When it comes to China, many of us are quick to judge the people and the place simply from the “cover” – usually the images and stories we hear on the news or on social media. But that isn’t always the best, or even the right, picture. And because of that misinformation, many people tend to veer away from the country altogether.
But that’s a mistake.
China is an amazing place filled with some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Not only that, they also have a rich history, an amazing culture, and some of the best food around. Sadly, however, most people will never get to enjoy the Land of Dragons and Tea Leaves because of the skewed view the rest of the world has placed on it.
Please understand, I’m not promoting their policies or the way they handle things. That’s a different story and one I’m not interested in debating. Instead, I want to break down a few misconceptions about China so that people can have a well-rounded view of the country in order to make an educated opinion.
5 Things You’re Getting Wrong
Why am I so passionate about this topic? There are two reasons mainly:
1. My family and I were blessed to live in China for 2.5 years. During that time we were able to experience all the ins and outs of China firsthand. It was nothing like we were lead to believe and I want to do all I can to make sure people have a correct understanding of some of the places, traditions and people that live there.
2. My book, Perfectly Arranged (releasing October 26, 2021 by Scrivenings Press), is partially set in China. To be honest, I believe many agents and publishers were not interested in the book simply because of the location in which it took place. I get that, but I think the book should stand on its own merit and not be rejected simply because of its setting. Not only that, I want to make sure that when people read Perfectly Arranged, they have a proper understanding of some of the things that take place in the book.
With that in mind, here are the top 5 things I think most people get wrong when it comes to China:
- The only eating utensils available are chopsticks. Nope! There are plenty of forks, spoons, and knives to be had. As more and more Westerners converge on the country, dining establishments are happy to supply you with whatever is easiest for you to enjoy their tasty foods! However, they do appreciate if you at least try to eat with the pointy utensils. Want to learn how? Here’s a quick video to help you master the skill:
- Fortune cookies originated in China. Wrong! While the exact origin is unclear, many believe that the fortune cookie was brought over by Japanese immigrants who came to the United States in the late 19th or early 20th century. Made of flour, sugar, vanilla and sesame seed oil, fortune cookies include a small piece of paper with a vague prophecy or aphorism. In my years of living in China I was never once presented with a fortune cookie after a meal. Rather, it’s common to be served watermelon for dessert to cleanse your palette after eating.
- The one child policy. Not any more! It’s no secret that the Asian population is the largest in the world. In order to control the size of the rapidly growing poulation, the country started a program in 1979/1980 to limit the number of births a family could have. Thus the one-child policy became the rule (with a few exceptions). However, in 2015, the government amended their policy allowing families to have 2 children and recently even suggested a 3 child policy.
- Squatty potties are the only options for using the bathroom. Certainly not! While they are the preferred toilet of choice, squatty potties are not the only options available. Most hotels offer Western-style toilets and more tourist spots are moving towards having those in their “water closets” as well. The only places you’ll likely find squatty potties as the sole option to relieve yourself is in rural areas or small villages.
- The Great Wall of China is a leisurely walk in the park. No way! As someone who has traversed the architectural feat three times, I can assure you that it’s not all that easy to maneuver. Made up of fortresses, ramparts, trenches and ditches, the Great Wall is more of a climb than a walk. So if you’re planning to visit, make sure you have on good walking shoes and plenty of water!
While there are many other things that I could share about China that are often misconstrued, I’ll leave it here for now. But I hope that with just these 5 things, you’re beginning to see and understand the real China. The one Nicki Mayfield gets to experience in Perfectly Arranged – coming soon!