• Home
  • Search
    •  
  • Login
    • Username: Password:

      Did you miss your activation email?

Author Topic: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX  (Read 3914 times)

MK

  • Barfly Dude
  • *
  • Posts: 1884
This was inspired by a post and discussion over at Sinosplice:

http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2011/06/07/china-lite

I'm a few years in China and I haven't had a visit from my parents here yet.  It's not that they don't want to come, it's more that I am afraid they may not leave with a good impression of China.  They are both sixty-something, and they do travel, but so far never outside of Western Europe / North America.

There are two things in particular that I just know will not sit well with them if they encounter them head on - those are general cleanliness, especially around toilets and food and cooking, and treatment of animals, which I know is a culturally loaded concept.

Anyway, the post over at Sinosplice voiced a lot of the things I have been going over RE a parental visit - I kind of want them to see all the cool stuff I have seen, and have a 'real' experience, but then they'll see a lot of the negatives too.  On the other hand is the relatively sterile / safe tour group experience.  How to get a good middle ground is kind of tricky.

Anyone got any thoughts or experiences?

Borkya

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 1354
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 09:14:47 AM »
I'm actually one of the responders over there, so i won't repeat what I said again, but remember, what is 'real' china to you could be way over the top to them, so find a happy medium.

Nice hotels, but a "real" bus ride and maybe a meal at a dirty little noodle shop once, but mostly at mid-level sit down places will leave them very impressed. Maybe a walk through the veggie part of the market while making sure to stay away from the meat section. You know, things like that!

BrandeX

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 1080
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 10:24:16 AM »
another "real China" commentary?
/facepalm
interesting read nonetheless

kitano

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 2472
    • Children of the Atom
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 12:32:35 PM »
my parents went to india before china and so they thought china was pretty clean and organised :D

persuade them to visit india or south asia before they come to see you


becster79

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 1678
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 01:29:45 PM »
This is very relevant for me. My family, including possibly my sister and her hubby are possibly coming for the 1st time!!!!!!!!! to visit me.

They have NEVER travelled overseas before.

I plan on mainly showing them Hong Kong, then probably 2-3 days in Shenzhen. I'd say that would be a very "harmonised" visit!

Really looking forward to watching their reactions to, well, everything! The noise, the crowds, the food, the magnitude of it all!
10 easy steps to stop procrastination.

1.

china-matt

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 1089
    • Booze, Food, Travel
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 02:21:51 PM »
Big one for when my parents visited was restaurant cleanliness and food safety. My parents are adventurous eaters, but I just didn't want them getting sick during their visit.

We also stopped often at nice hotels so my mom could use a clean toilet.
"I don't need to compromise my principles, because they don't have the slightest bearing on what happens to me anyway." -Calvin
3 greatest things in the world in one website: http://www.boozefoodtravel.com
http://www.TotalTaipei.com
My Taipei travel guide: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073RSMVG

xwarrior

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 2238
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 03:13:49 PM »
I think you would be surprised at the things parents can cope with. Most of them have been through things, and seen things, that they they never got around to telling you about for various reasons. Mine managed to get through WWII without me being there to protect them.

Maybe go for the tourist route as the base for the trip. When they get here you can sit down each day and have a talk about the other things they might like to see - meat market, public toilets, etc.
I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.
- Bette Midler

teacheraus

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 780
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2011, 03:51:15 PM »
-I am interested in this thread too. My father is coming to visit me in a couple of days time. At 75 it is his first real overseas trip, excapt for a trip about 20 years ago where he spent a week at a resort in Fiji (2 hours from Sydney).
Sometimes it seems things go by too quickly. We are so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take the time to enjoy where we are. (Calvin and Hobbs)

Stil

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 4800
    • ChangshaNotes
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2011, 04:14:44 PM »
Try to remember they are not children. How much do you like it when your Chinese friends try to "take care of you" because you are not used to doing things the Chinese way. It's a holiday, an adventure. Decent place to sleep and eat but having a look at the worst toilet in the world is part of the adventure.

My mom is 75. She's been here 3 times since I've been here (8 years) and loves it. Of course she would never want to live here but visiting .......? It's not like home.

That's the point, isn't it?

Borkya

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 1354
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2011, 11:02:45 PM »
Try to remember they are not children.

It's true, but at the same time they definitely have to be taken care of. I mean, back in America they might visit me and I just wait for them to show up, and then they take off when they are done. Even when I lived in Boston I just told them what T stop my apt was, and the street name and number, and expected them to find me.

But here I have to be there to pick them up from whatever bus/train they come in on (and write out the chinese for the train so they can show it to a ticket person), and then hand deliver them to the bus when it is time to leave. I mean, even if they take a taxi to the airport I have to be with them to tell the taxi driver where to go. (And let's not even get into their pronunciation. After 2 years a 2 visits my dad STILL calls hangzhou HANG-Zew and my mom, in trying to buy tickets for Xitang ended up with something completely different and she had no idea because she thought she said it right and couldn't read the chinese.) Also because my dad is mid 70's i have to keep in mind constant bathroom breaks and keep my eyes open for nice hotels when we are walking around.

They're not children, but when they come visit you in "strange" china, you are definitely the adult in charge and should remember that!

Escaped Lunatic

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 9916
  • Finding new ways to conquer the world
    • EscapedLunatic.com
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2011, 04:36:24 AM »
My parents wimped out on HK and Macao.  The good news is that they're going to spring for tickets for me and my lovely wife to visit them in a few months.
I'm pro-cloning and we vote!               Why isn't this card colored green?
EscapedLunatic.com

AMonk

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 7438
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2011, 11:56:27 AM »
My parents wimped out on HK and Macao.  The good news is that they're going to spring for tickets for me and my lovely wife to visit them in a few months.


....and Dutiful Daughter..?..
Moderation....in most things...

WastedYouth

  • Barfly
  • *
  • Posts: 101
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2011, 02:20:37 PM »
Yes! I vote for the "Dutiful Daughter" to go too!
After reading your wedding saga (V.enjoyable), she played a big part in the happy procedings too!
Especially since mom & pop EL are stumping up for your tickets, you should have some spare wonga knocking around to finance the little princess.

Do it, she'll love ya forever! (Sure she does anyway!)
Arse end of nowhere...across from the renegade province.

"Liberty is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear" - George Orwell

Escaped Lunatic

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 9916
  • Finding new ways to conquer the world
    • EscapedLunatic.com
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2011, 01:13:06 AM »
The trip is scheduled after my lovely daughter returns to school.  Since this will be my wife's first trip to the US, it should also be easier to get the visa while leaving our dearest one here in China with her other two parents.

Next year, we plan take our daughter on a summer vacation to the US.
I'm pro-cloning and we vote!               Why isn't this card colored green?
EscapedLunatic.com

The Local Dialect

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3900
Re: 'China Lite' - Catering for your visiting relatives since 20XX
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2011, 10:01:09 AM »
My parents just MOVED here after having visited three times. Of course they moved to Beijing, which is not at all the same as moving to some podunk, but still. They live here now!

The first time they visited was for my wedding back in 2006. They came to Kunming and kind of got a full on experience right off the bat going down to my husband's Yunnanese village for the wedding. As far as villages go, my husband's village is fairly large and we put them up in a little village hotel that had running water and flush toilets (but squatters) but it was still quite a shock. Right before the wedding I took them on an overnight bus down to Jinghong, and while the bus scared them a bit, they loved Jinghong. They really enjoy things that give them what they[\i] consider an "authentic" China experience (although personally I hate that term, along with "real China" because of course it is all real China and authentic, what else could it be?). My parents, my dad especially, is kind of an Orientalist although he'd probably take offense if I said so to his face. They love the quaint little Chinese-y stuff, the temples and the courtyard houses and people wearing traditional clothes. That said, their experience has always been somewhat watered down by the presence of tourist infrastructure in all of the places we've visited aside from my village wedding.

My parents are pretty up to try new things but they need their coffee and they prefer Western food to Chinese. They speak practically no Chinese and they are prone to asking lots of questions, taking lots of pictures, and being very very friendly. They like China but they find crowds and staring and dirtyness hard to deal with. I've found that by sticking to well-traveled places I've been able to satisfy their curiousity without overwhelming them. The village was ok but that was because we had family there. If we'd just rocked up on a random village (which I've done in the past) I doubt they'd have liked it, at least on that first trip. I've taken them to Kunming, to Jinghong, to Chengde, on a (sterile, Chinese package) tour to Inner Mongolia, and we just (as in today) got back from Pingyao. They loved Jinghong and loved Pingyao. I imagine in the future I'll probably take them to Lijiang and Dali when we go back to Kunming to visit family.

As of now my parents still need a lot of handholding. Stil it is funny, because my husband actually commented when we were in Pingyao this week that it was like having 4 kids instead of two. Part of it is that they just don't understand anything that is said, at all. I don't know, I have never had the experience of showing up to China and being totally oblivious to what was being said around me. I came to China after having studied Chinese in college and people who can just show up here and get by amaze me, but my parents definitely rely on us a lot and now that they live here part of the challenge is going to be how to slowly help them establish some independence from us.

All of that is basically to say that I think when taking the parents through China it is a good idea, unless you have intrepid world travelers for parents, to stick to places with at least a bit of tourist infrastructure, at least for the first trip. You can show them some dirty toilets, sure, but you don't want every toilet to be vomit-inducing. They'll want, if they're anything like my folks, a hotel with a Western style toilet, a shower with hot water, a decent bed to sleep in at night. They don't need 5 star and tour groups in the Chinese style are honestly too exhausting for them, but they do want some level of comfort. We did visit some villages and smaller towns and my parents liked seeing each and every one of them, but we always had a larger more comfortable base to go back to.