China, Guangdong Enping

5 Things I learned in Enping!

Enping is a small city in China, that my parents grew up from before immigrating to Canada. I got the pleasure to travel there this spring. After this trip I learned how important it was to have learned Chinese when I was younger. As it would have helped in the future, if I had not given up on learning Chinese so early, my communication skills would have been much better when I was in China. I really do regret it now…

Everything was different compared to Canada.

That’s why I love to travel and experience new culture and environment. It leaves me with a new found perspective about different parts of the world, after each trip.


1. The Culture

The Chinese language here has a strong Enping accent. It was sometimes hard for me to understand them or for them to understand my plain Chinese “accent”/broken Chinese/ Chinglish (communication using Chinese + English together). There customer services could come off rude because they rarely say “thank you”, “how are you”, “Bye”, etc. Tipping is also not required and they never expect it. Instead they would be in shock if you were to tip and just think you’re stupid and couldn’t count the right amount of money.

The washrooms are different. Most people born and raised in Enping are used to the squatting seats/toilets. Which is literally a hole in the ground with no toilet seats. You squat at all times when you do your business. All the malls and restaurants, I’ve been too had this traditional toilet. The more modern toilets which we use everyday in Canada is rarely found. My uncle had one in his apartment and said when he first got the toilet, he was not sure how to use it as he was never used to sitting down when he did his business. What’s worse is you always have to carry tissue paper on you because normally there is no toilet papers in the stalls. So if you forget tissue paper, you’ll be walking around with a little dirty bum for a while. I find this traditional toilet of there’s to be unsafe for elderly use. For an elderly to squat for a short/long period of time could be dangerous and troubling for them to try and get up afterwards.

Littering is also a common behavior. It’s okay to litter and no one seem to care about it. I caught myself littering once or twice as I tried to adapt to this new environment. Despite the littering done by many, the main streets are never too dirty. I’ve seen street cleaners every night, sweeping leafs and picking up all the garbage left on the streets/roads.

2. CHEAP Food

Food here is CHEAP and delicious! What’s surprising is that popular name brand Fast Food is more expensive then regular cafes/restaurants here. Whenever we eat out at a restaurant we always have to sanitize the dishes and utilities they provide us with boiling hot water. It’s always done. Restaurants would provide a bowl for us and the hot water so we can kill all the bacteria with the boiling hot water.

Dim sum is very popular. It is served all hours of the day, not only during morning. Some days we would have dinner for a morning meal then again on the same day for a late night meal.

Menus are 99% of the times in Chinese. It was such a big struggle being CBC (Chinese born Canadian) because I was not able to read the menus. When I went out with my brother, who’s also CBC, we didn’t know what to order or what they had on the menu. So we would just point at something on the menu and asked for that and our drinks/dishes would come out as a surprise. We either order something good or bad.

WeChat is a popular app used in China. Many places allow payments to be done through the app. Also some cafes offer discount for people using the app to pay for their purchase.

3. The Weather

Coming from Canada where we have fresh cold air in spring to humid warm air, was quite a drastic change at first. My first breath out of the airport in Guangzhou felt like a warm suffocation. But my lungs quickly adapted to this new air pollution. The weather in Guangdong Enping is as bipolar as the weather in Vancouver. It would start off as a nice hot sunny day to a pouring rainy day in matter of a few hours to a few minutes. When it rained we would wait for the rain to stop under some shelter, because the city people are used to this weather and are able to predict the rain will stop after a few minutes then they can precede on with their days again.

4. dogs…

In the city of Enping there isn’t as much stray dogs as I thought there would be. All the stray dogs I’ve seen were from the villages I visited, which was about 20-30 minutes drive away. The dogs kept as “pets” were probably the saddest ones ever. They were normally chained up at all times to a wall or tree. Normally never given walks and fed human food rather then dog food. I saw in one bowl that had rice with water and some meat. Most of the dogs are aggressively barking at anyone walking by. I heard a restaurant owner saying if the dogs aren’t chained up they would run off. If I was a dog living in that situation I would run off to freedom too.

A sad little story: a puppy was taken as a house pet and kept in the balcony of the apartment had always lived up there and never seen anything outside of his balcony home. Never gone for walks because he was too afraid to go downstairs. This little pooch is living his life without seeing anything outside of the balcony. He was a male dog that peed like a female dog, peeing without lifting his leg.

As much as I wanted to save all these dogs I know it was impossible.

5. Random Facts

Let’s turn away from that and end on a more positive note.

What I loved was getting my hair washed at the salon. For 25 yuan, it was the best experience ever! They massaged my scalps and gave me a neck and back massage as well. It was a nice 30 minutes massage. They also offer ear cleaning too, but I always said no because I didn’t want people touching my ears. After my washing was done, they swirl a Q-tip into my eardrums for a quick clean and in case any shampoo got in. One time there was a giant spider on the ceiling next to me… My aunt noticed and asked why they haven’t thrown it out or killed it. They said it’s there “pet” as it helps them eat the mosquito. Pretty neat… I’m just thankful I didn’t have my glasses on and only saw a big black blur. It gets pretty busy during the hair salon especially during the afternoon and later at night. Most girls came here to get there hair washed too.

Movie theaters here are pretty empty. No strict polices either. Outside food are allowed in. So is having cellphones on and talking on the phone and to people around you. It’s so common that it’s not frowned upon here. But in Canada it would have been frowned upon.


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