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  Beijing Scene

How to be a
Chinese Tourist

Now that you're zhongguotong (China Hand), it's time to pack your bianzhidai (rainbow-colored plastic sack) and head off for some serious X&X (the Chinese equivalent of R&R). Whether you're travelling within China or visiting another country near or far, you should be familiar with the Chinese standard etiquette and corresponding vocabulary for each particular vacation circumstance.

Before You Go chufa
When preparing to travel, always remember the Golden Rule: only take the bare essentials. Don't forget your guazirer (sunflower seeds), huamei (sour dried plums), or fangbianmian (instant noodles). Take your baowenping (thermos) and some raw garlic, too. Only bring formal attire and pack only one change of clothes, regardless of how long you'll be gone. Footwear should be formal pleather (that fashionable, faux leather vinyl) shoes for men and white highheels or black combat boots for the ladies. If possible, bring one empty suitcase and one suitcase stuffed with cash. And remember that when you go on vacation you must bring ALL of your living relatives with you. It's a law or something.

Hotel Etiquette - fandian liyi
You should always treat your hotel room as you would your own home. Feel free to wander the halls in your underwear, blast your television with the door open, and wash your clothes in the sink. Before you leave, steal as many towels and complimentary soaps and shampoos as you can. They make great stocking stuffers for the holidays! Put your cigarettes out in whatever takes your fancy, especially in non-smoking rooms: paper cups, empty cans, lumps of soggy toilet paper, etc.

You'll often get to eat the buffet breakfast free of charge in whatever hotel you're staying in. Stuff whatever you can into your pockets, and be sure to leave plenty of food on your plate when you leave so that the chef doesn't think you didn't like the meal (reverse Chinese logic).

Taking Pictures paizhao
Note that the proper posture for having your picture taken is to stand erect (upright, that is) with your arms straight at your sides and your feet shoulder-length apart. It is imperative that you maintain a blank, disinterested expression on your face at all times. If you smile in a picture and someone from your danwei (work unit) sees it, they might realize that you went on vacation, not a business trip.

Then how could you justify baoxiao (claiming expenses) for your entire trip? Make sure that you have your picture taken at every major tourist attraction, along with every tree, rock, and puddle nearby, because otherwise no one will believe that you actually went. Also, when taking pictures of others, never photograph their entire body. Either cut off their feet or their head, or simply split them down the middle. This must be done in order to conserve film and preserve the traditional Chinese photographic tradition of cutting off people's heads and feet.

Your Tour Guide - daoyou
It is not unreasonable to assume that your tour guide is omniscient. Be sure to ask questions ranging from 'Where's the bathroom' to 'What is the meaning of life' and 'Who shot JFK' If they say they don't know, they're probably lying to protect someone. Ask again later when they're busy doing something else. Maybe you can catch them off guard and get them to reveal some top-secret information. Regardless, just remember that your tour guide is ALWAYS trying to hide something from you.

Keep in mind also that your tour guide is responsible for every aspect of your vacation. If it rains, you have every right to blame them. As a matter of fact, feel free to blame your tour guide for any problems that occur in your life or in the world. If you change money and get a low exchange rate, blame it on the guide. Likewise, if your 14-year-old daughter becomes pregnant, more likely than not your tour guide had something to do with it.

Remember that tour guides are like traffic lights: they are there for 'the other guy,' not you, and thus can be ignored at will. Always do your best to walk ahead of the tour guide and wander in whatever random direction your heart desires. Be sure to begin every sentence you say to the tour guide with one of the following phrases: 'Which way to' 'How much longer will' or 'I'm (insert adjective expressing discomfort).' Always state the obvious to the tour guide, like 'the train is late,' and 'it's raining.' Finally, the most important rule: after asking your tour leader a question, proceed to ignore their answer and then ask the same question five to 10 minutes later.

Food - shiwu
No matter where you go in the world on vacation, the only food you can possibly consume is Chinese food. Never mind dining on fine French and Italian cuisine. Just stick to the local 'Hunan Garden' in Venice, Paris, or whatever city you find yourself in. After all, foreign food is simply chibuguan (can't be eaten). If you must eat non-Chinese food, ask for hot tea as a beverage, hold your plate up to your mouth and scrape the food in with your fork, and ask for a bowl of white rice after you've finished your meal.

The Beach - haitan
Don't bother with bathing suits. Just roll up your sleeves and pant legs, take off your shoes and socks, unzip your jacket and relax! Soak in the rays. Whatever you do, don't go in the water for Mao's sake. For no matter how hot it gets, the water will always be too cold for swimming.

Like anything in China, tourism is an art form with certain norms from which you should do your best not to deviate. The Chinese have had 5,000 years to perfect the art of being expert tourists. Take a lesson! The Comrade would like to wish all of you comrades and comradettes a safe and happy Western and Chinese New Year!

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