Top 5 Culture Shocks in China

Top 5 Culture Shocks in China

A lot of people will post blogs about their amazing experiences, beautiful sights and incredible locations. However, it became apparent to me that travelling is not always about this, and sometimes we do come across some sights that we probably don't agree with and that might even upset us. A place where I experienced a lot of this was in China. I actually couldn't believe what I was seeing a lot of the time and decided that I desperately needed to show people perhaps the darker side of travelling, and in some cases, the real side.

5 - The Cuisine
The first thing you will notice in China is the odd cuisine they will serve up or the interesting foods being sold on the streets and back alleys of cities. I came across some very strange sights, included roasted baby birds, chicken feet and cooked dogs and cats. However, the worst one to witness in China is where they eat some animals alive on the place, fortunately we didn't see all of these! These include living fish, snakes, shrimps, duck embryos, live baby mice and they even eat live monkeys brains whilst it screams on the table and live donkeys - although now banned it is still done in smaller towns. I totally agree with cultural foods, bit I however do not agree with people eating animals alive!

4 - McDonalds in National Parks and UNESCO sites
I know that for McDonalds fans this probably doesn't seem very shocking. But for us, it was. We would be walking around in a beautiful area and a McDonalds dominated the scenery and the landscape and I found this hugely disappointing. For example, when we visited the Zhangjiajie National Park, we got a cable car right to the very top, expecting there to be a beautiful viewpoint or a nice little traditional Chinese restaurant, but instead there was a giant McDonalds.  For me, I find it bad enough to see the American franchise in all cities Around this world, but to see it in beautiful areas saddens me and me so angry with the world

3 - Asian Bears at the great wall At the bottom of the Great Wall in Badaling we were shocked with what we witnessed. As we approached the exit, there was a large crowd gathered around, throwing pieces of apple and laughing. We walked over and couldn't believe what was in front of us. There was a dug out pit that was just very small and had what looked like a building site with metal poles and ladders inside. The area is known as 'the begging bears', where Asian bears will beg high up on the metal poles and beg for tourists to throw them snacks. It was awful to see, they had nothing in their dug out pit, no bed, no greenery and no food or water. It looked like a concentration camp for bears.


2 - Live lizards, newts and turtles as a phone charm
I couldn't believe this when I saw it (as with a lot of things in China). I was crossing a bridge, passing dozens of hawkers selling all sorts of items on rugs, when I noticed a woman selling something in colourful small plastic bags. There were lots of teenage girls buying them and putting them on their phone and when I saw what it was I was horrified! Inside were living miniature animals, including turtles, lizards and newts. The woman saw me looking and asked if I wanted to buy one. I picked one of the turtle ones up and watched as it struggled to move. Each animal had two pellets of food inside with them. I asked the woman 'how do they survive and won't they die?' and she laughed and pointed to the food, saying that it will feed them for couple of days or even a couple of weeks, but the liquid will preserve their bodies and she told me not to worry. It was cruel and what was worse was when I began noticing how many young girls had them dangling from their phones and bags, bashing up against things. Once the animal died, they probably bought another one. I wanted to buy them all and set everyone of them free, but as a budget traveller I didn't have enough to do it. 


1 - Harbin animals at Polar Land and the Siberian Tiger Park
Finally, at number one are the animals in Harbin's Polarland and Siberian Tiger Park. Initially I was incredibly excited to see the many animals, but what I witnessed in these places were pure animal cruelty and it was saddening to watch. I shall start with Polarland - A place to go to if you want to see the many arctic animals, such as polar bears, foxes, wolves and beluga whales. However it is probably one of the worst places these animals could live EVER. All the animals are kept in an incredibly tight closures, with solid ground painted white to look like snow. The two large polar bears look as though they have gone mental and just circle the tiny pool they have been given, and the beluga whales are used for shows with trainers.

Siberian Tiger Park - To begin with, it appears as though the animals are in a great place. The Siberian tigers have a very large area to roam freely and they appear to look healthy and content. However, once you leave the area of the Siberian tigers, you then reach the area of the African lions, Jaguars, ligers and more big cats. We were here in January, where the temperatures dropped as low as -27'C and all of these big cats were kept outdoors. They looked very unhealthy and cold and most of them just had a small concrete enclosure, with no real bed, no greenery and nothing to entertain them. The way they were kept was horrific and unbelievable and something like this should not be allowed.

Have you ever had a culture shock experience? Share with us in the comments below!

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4 responses to “Top 5 Culture Shocks in China”

  1. Mark says:

    Living in Shanghai for a few years I’ve heard and even experience some of this. The eating of live animals happens in tons of places around the world (not to justify it but this is quite common). The Harbin Tigher Park is suppose to be one of the worst places but there’s a lot of places in Asia that have places set up like this, including Bangkok (where tons of tourists go to take photos next to a tiger). I’m hoping to see some balance and hear some of the good in your experience in China. It couldn’t all have been this bad right?

    • Issy says:

      Mark :),

      Thank you for your comment…You are absolutely right! There are tons of places all over Asia, not just China where some shocking things do happen. I have seen things in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia :(. There were some incredibly amazing experiences in China also. We actually loved Harbin and it voted as one of our top 10 places to visit in the world :D. We also loved, Chengdu, Shaolin Temple, the Avatar Mountains, Kunming and much more :). China is a country full of wonderful things, and as it is so large, there is so much to explore! :). Despite the things we did witness, China is a beautiful country, and I would recommend anyone to visit there! 🙂

  2. Heidi Goodman says:

    Love this post. Exactly how I’m feeling about India right now!

    • Issy says:

      India is a massive culture shock also, although I do LOVE India !! 😀 what have you been shocked by in India? Would love to hear 🙂


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