1. The Great Wall is surreal. Beyond imagination, really.
2. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way! Ever.
3. Service in China is not fake or forced; even while being "conned," you are still treated with great care!
4. China is actually a very safe place.
5. Communism may not be "equitable," but holy crap, it's efficient!
6. Everything in China is big. HUGE. Forbidden City? Check. Great Wall? Check. Summer Palace? Check. Tiananmen Square? Check. Skyscrapers? Check. Gardens? Check. Underground metro? Check.
7. The eating of scorpions and tarantulas and geckos seems to be more of a dare for the tourists rather than the norm for the locals.
8. Chinese bargaining (i.e. shopping) can be exhausting, but it is FUN!
9. Millions upon millions of people mean that lines are optional. Unless there is a barrier. If you want to get to the toilet or kiosk or whatever next, be sure to throw an elbow or two!
10. Although traffic and pedestrian laws are very lax, there is absolutely no road rage. Anywhere. None. Zip. Cut you off? No big deal. Almost ran you over? No big deal. This has to be the one area in which I was ashamed of American behavior and proud of Chinese behavior. People there just know how to let things go!
11. Wharton classmates and spouses are some of the greatest people in the world. Friends for life, man! Friends for life.
12. Soup dumplings in Shanghai are divine.
13. Shanghai 1800's French, German, and British architecture may be all the rage, but the simplicity of a Beijing Hutong (old neighborhood) is just as mesmerising.
14. Children not potty trained yet wear the split pants; and with the help of their parents, urinate wherever they happen to be! (sort of. This one needs more of an explanation).
15. In the 30 story high-rise apartment buildings, there are no screens on the windows. You can tell children live in them when there are make-shift mesh or chicken-wire-type screens over the windows.
16. People in the main cities are used to foreigners; the further out you go, the more annoyed the locals.
17. Chinese massage is brutal, but oh, so worth it!
18. In all of my travels throughout Beijing and Shanghai, I did not see one obese Chinese. Or even overweight (if I'm remembering correctly). Not one!
19. The language is very difficult for my brain to remember. But most know some English; it's written on almost everything (especially at the World Expo). This was another thing that made me embarrassed --how do Americans treat people who come to our country that don't speak our language? With compassion? Service? Respect? Like the Chinese do? (Don't get me wrong, I love my country! It just got me thinking...)
20. Standing on top of the World's 3rd tallest building was pretty amazing.
21. Visiting the World Expo in Shanghai would have been better if we had known BEFORE that showing our USA passports at the USA building would have let us bypass the hours-long lines.
22. Church in China is the same in Utah. Except for meeting in a high-rise building. And not being able to meet with Chinese nationals (because of the law).
23. American money goes a loooooong way in China.
24. Standing on the same places as past Emperors and Empresses of China felt amazing. I love history!
25. Toilets are everywhere! In London, I couldn't find a public toilet to save my life. In China? Every. Where. The only downside is that female toilets are squat ones. That's right!
26. If you can find a handicapped stall, then it's a sit-down toilet! Glad I figured that one out early on, although I did master the squat toilet, which actually ended up being more sanitary.
27. You cannot drink the water.
28. Bottled water is super cheap and sold EVERYWHERE. Hotels provide bottled water everyday, too.
29. Little Chinese children love to say "hello!" to foreigners. I loved that part. :)
30. Everyone is the same. The exact same. Every person in the world desires love, family, friendship, good food, an income, and meaning. We are all the same.
[31.1. Several websites are banned by the government including blogs and Facebook. It was rare to log onto either of those sites. ]
Pictures, videos, and long boring explanations to come! I've been up now for exactly 26 hours (with only a 45 minute nap in there), so my brain is fried. It might take me some time to get it all documented, but it will be worth it!
P.S. If we had the opportunity to be expats in China with our five kids, we would probably do it. I loved it that much, dear reader. China was amazing!