Electricity. This is smart, IMO. You place the hotel key card in this slot by the door to make the electricity available. When you leave, you take the key card, and things turn off. No lights left on or a/c left running, you don’t need that stuff when you’re not there anyway. It’s reduces electric use and it’s better for the environment.
Water. Above is a water filter we had in the bathroom at only one of the hotels, so it’s not common. What we did have in every hotel room was an electric kettle to boil water for tea or the ubiquitous noodle soup cups. We used the kettles to boil drinking water, letting it sit out over night to cool. We did not drink the tap water in. China; I don’t think anyone does. Chinese prefer hot beverages, especially tea of course, with meals.
Beds. The beds appeared to be box springs with no mattress. Firm, didn’t bother any of us.
Toilets. Western sit toilets, no problems there. Toilet paper, though, is another story. You get about 1/5 roll per day, and apparently we use more than that because we always ran out. We carried out own since we needed it for the paperless public toilets anyway.
Sidewalks. They have a stripe on them with some dotted panels. We saw this in Japan as well. Fiercely figured it out at one point that it is a slow lane for people texting so they keep moving in a straight line. They can feel with their feet if they are following the sidewalk. The dotted panels appeared at a corner of when a barrier was approaching, so texters don’t walk into the street unawares. This also would be helpful to the blind. Sidewalks for the blind and the texting? Yep.
Buses. They are cheap (2 yuan per person, and sometimes we paid less, it was a little confusing because driver didn’t have change and we were never sure of charge for the kids) and frequent, but, like subways, they stop only at their stations. There is no pull chain or button to signal the driver you’d like to exit, instead you get off when and where the bus stops and hope you don’t miss your station. Which leads me to…
Everything is in Chinese. Bus stops, signs, menus, packages-don’t expect to see much English or even pinyin (Chinese in roman letters). The subways were an exception, they did have station names in English on the walls and also on the voice announcements. A Chinese-American friend told us that one has to learn 2,000-3,000 Chinese characters to be literate here, and it took him a year while living and working in China and studying with a tutor to achieve that. So it’s daunting, even though I have some language skills and I’m fluent in Spanish, I don’t see myself making much progress in the short time we are here. I do like seeing the characters, though, they are ancient and beautiful.
More on toilets. There are public toilets all over the cities we have visited- very useful when traveling with kids. Squat toilets. No toilet paper, so we try to bring our own. Usually no soap either. Some people bring baby wipes, but we haven’t seen them for sale anywhere yet.
Smoking. A friend mentioned that 60% of men in China smoke, and they do it with abandon. We noticed it most in enclosed spaces like the sleeper train- yuk! – but we encountered it everywhere. Restaurants, shops, next to ‘no smoking’ signs. There are little shops selling only cigarette cartons on every block.