Whether new or seasoned in Asia, you’ve undoubtedly experienced differences. Most people have one or more reasons for being in China, and now that you’ve found Dongguan, you may be finding exceptions to the rules.
I am not in my own country.
Anybody who comes to China expecting it to be the same as the West is in for a rude awakening. That is not to say there aren’t elements of Western culture here, but it can generally feel a little less civilized. Many expats try China and simply decide it is not for them within a matter of weeks, but for those that do stay, it can be rewarding; as long as you can get with the program.
I need the right paperwork.
Rule number one for anyone; make sure your visa is legit. China has many different kinds of visas for foreigners and a no nonsense policy for non-compliance. The most common visas are tourist (L), business (F) and working (Z). The work visa necessitates a foreign expert certificate, a verified medical check and registration at a local police station, while the other two require regular exits from the Chinese mainland. Infringement penalties range from fines to prison and deportation.
Freshness is not guaranteed.
We all need to eat, and newbies especially will be excited to try the seemingly endless range of delicacies from different provinces and hone their chopstick skills. That said, some restaurant standards may not be up to what some of us are used to. Scan the walls for the restaurant’s food hygiene certificate. It will have three different colored smiley faces indicating the level. Proceed with street food at your own peril.It is rumored many vendors use reclaimed oil from sewers.
I will get sick.
Should you get that upset stomach from one too many oysters, you will need to find the local drugstore or hospital. Unless your Mandarin or Cantonese is decent, take someone to help with translation. The Pharmacy will probably offer you Chinese medicine first, but there is usually Western medicine if you request it. Hospitals will most likely put you on an IV drip, regardless of what is wrong with you, be prepared to write off a few hours.
There will be arguments with taxis.
Anyone who has spent more than a month in China will surely have a taxi related anecdote to share. Fortunately, the majority of taxi drivers in Dongcheng and Nancheng are legally bound to use the meters, so getting around is relatively cheap. Should you exit that radius, prepare for extreme haggling and nonchalant shrugs. Many drivers in the surrounding regions guffaw at the prospect of using their meter and expect to pay a starting fee of RMB 20 to go anywhere.
The Metro will have to wait.
At present the scheduled completion of the Dongguan City Metro has been postponed until May 2016, so unfortunately it is back to the buses for those longer haul journeys. They are fairly frequent and providing they are not too full and the traffic is good, buses are the cheapest option to get around the Dongguan region. Humen Town in the south of Dongguan also has the high speed train to Shenzhen North and Guangzhou South stations, available for RMB 40.
Dongguan is like a war zone.
The Chinese invented fireworks many moons ago and have not lost their enthusiasm for using them. Those who have experienced Chinese New Year here in China will know it is basically a two week boom fest. In fact the Chinese will use fireworks to celebrate just about anything, from a wedding to the opening of a new store. This is all well and good, until it is your day off and they start going off at 5 a.m. Time to get the earplugs out!