Our Chinese Takeaways - Peking Jim and Sassy Con's 20 Hot Facts about China:
1. The food is amazing. And amazingly spicy too. Yunnan and Sichuan provinces' food rocks (apart from anything made with yak butter and anything for sale at a "service station").
2. The locals order a LOT of it. A couple (the girl being as tiny as a bird) will order a large tray of spicy chicken, two plates of additional "meats", a casserole bowl of soup, two types of green leafy vegetables and requisite Tupperware of rice. Now that's super-sizing it.
3. The secret to the girl's tiny frame is therefore two-fold: a) eating all that with food with chopsticks takes so long that she gives up halfway through; and b) judging by the farmyard that is every Chinese toilet, food goes straight through them.
4. It's incredibly difficult to use a squat toilet after too many Tsingtao beers.
5. You do not want to use the toilet on an overnight bus. Ever.
6. Unlike the food delivered from the Golden Palace in Kennington, the Chinese do not travel well. And when even your bus driver starts voming in the red plastic bags, you know it's going to be a long journey. This may also be another explanation behind Fact No 3.
7. You will not win your one-woman war against the Hock-and-Spitters by yelling "That's just not necessary" at every one of them on the street.
8. We're not sure if there's an old Chinese proverb that says: "Despite heavy rain outside, there will be no water inside" but it was certainly true for two of our chosen hostels.
9. Chinese city builders have a nonchalant disregard of systematic street numbering and naming. Why should numbers 34, 35 or 36 be anywhere near each other? This means that no map bears any relation to the roads in front of you, and you're forced to put a lot of (usually misplaced) faith in local taxi drivers who - it turns out - can't read maps either.
10. No matter where you go, you'll still find a lone traveller carrying a blasted guitar. You might have been cool making music in the 80s, son, but haven't you heard of an iPod?
11. The West-Sichuans-cum-East-Tibetans live in beautiful big country houses. Plonk their quadruple-fronted detached piles in the Cotswolds and you'd bag yourself 2 million big ones. Here, they spend every cent on the property, leaving future family generations with just yak cheese to eat, yak butter milk to drink, and their children with no school fees.
12. Chinese and Korean tourists take photos of everything. Everything. You walking into the toilet. You walking out of the toilet. The back of the bus driver's head. The rocks at the side of the road. You looking at the rocks at the side of the road. A cloud. You telling their husband off for hocking and spitting at your feet. They'll even demand that you take off your hat and sunnies for them. Nicola secretly likes it and pretends she's Kate Middleton.
13. Western travellers lose all sense of style when they hit 3500m+. If you're cold, of course you can wear shorts over your trousers, a baseball cap over a balaclava and chunky walking socks pulled up to the knee.
14. China is slowly being taken over by dogs. Whether it's the herds of wild dogs having parties in the main square or the thousands of cute s***zus and chihuahuas sitting in shop doorways, these are the real Next Generation Chinese. And let's not mention the dogs that appear on your dinner plate...
15. Baby yaks snore badly. You do not want to sleep in a tent with them.
16. Every single Chinese girl moves to Shanghai in search for an ex-pat. Its population is rising by 15-17% each decade as a result. A bit like the Watford girls heading to Mahiki.
17. Though they'll push past you in the street and spit at your feet, the Chinese are actually very generous. This becomes a burden on a long bus journey when you really, really don't want to eat more of their unripe plums or dry-as-a-Mormon-wedding wafer biscuits.
18. Never order chicken in a restaurant. Whether shredded, spicy, sesamed or skewered, it will always be chicken skin and a bit of chicken toe.
19. There are no words to describe Chinese women's dress sense. They actually wear some beautiful summer dresses but pair them with 4 inch plastic transparent wedges with ankle straps, 30 denier black tights, a gold lame handbag and a baseball cap. They might just pass at 8pm on a Saturday night in Essex but they wear them at 8am on a Tuesday morning as they board a 12-hour bus.
20. The China Daily's news pages this week included a story that the Ministry of Health is investigating a claim that Chinese stamina boosters are made from the flesh of dead babies, an article about the use of dogs as wet nurses for baby lions, and how residents of Chongqing have to use umbrellas to cover themselves in the public loos as the roofs have been removed. Made in China.