China Fun Facts and Observations

postedc by David

THE Great Wall

  • Xi’an is a city that you never hear about outside of China but it has 8mm people in the metropolitan area.  This is similar to the population of Greater Chicagoland and it’s not even in the top five biggest cities in China ( I think it’s the fourteenth largest in terms of population)
  • Guangzhou (formerly Canton) is the largest city you’ve never heard of.  Depending on how you read the statistics, they have 12mm or 40mm – including the surrounding areas.
  • Mandarin is the official language but Cantonese is used in Hong Kong and the largest city which is Guangzhou
  • There are 56 recognized minority groups in China but the majority of people are Han (over 91%).  Some of the other minority groups include the long-haired Yao women and the long neck people.  The Kaifeng Jews were a minority group but have all but disappeared and were officially absorbed into the Han majority sometime in the 1990’s
  • There are at least two Muslim minority groups including the Uyghur people who are of Turkic extraction (pronounced either weeger or ooger) of which there are over 8mm.  The Uyghur people have their own language based on Turkish but they also speak Mandarin and pray in Arabic.  The other group is called the Hui Muslims and live in Xi’an among other places.
  • Hong Kong, although officially part of China since 1997, is completely independent financially (they have their own currency), politically and economically
  • Taiwan is not part of China but they have been in a very long dispute about this as China insists that Taiwan is indeed part of the Mainland
  • The Cultural Revolution lasted officially from 1966 to 1976 when Mao Tse Tong died.  During this time the educated elite and those who owned land and had any financial means were severely persecuted and many were sent for re-education in the countryside after being stripped of their jobs and homes.  There was a severe famine during this time as the Government attempted and failed to transform the way in which food was grown and delivered to the people.  Some people say that more than 70mm people died during this period
  • Chairman Mao is revered to this day.  Most people when asked do not speak about this period in Chinese history and it is not officially taught in schools
  • Even though China is a communist country, families are charged for public school and healthcare
  • Chinese people follow both Buddhist and Taoist traditions and may go to a Taoist temple one day and a Buddhist temple the next.  There are also Muslims, Christians and some other religions too
  • There are about 3,000 Jews in Shanghai today, mostly expats from the West
  • We have met many Chinese people who sleep on hard planks of wood instead of a traditional Western style mattress like we use in America
  • Dogs, crickets, bats, and frogs are part of the every day culinary experience in China…these more exotic foods are eaten in the South it seems
  • Beijing was a lot calmer than Shanghai which had tremendous building going on and lots of very fancy stores and apartments in various states of construction


  • Chinese currency is called the Yuan which is pronounced Yen and the current exchange rate is approximately six Yen to the U.S. dollar
  • Most Chinese people we talked to were satisfied with their current Communist government
  • In Beijing, the old neighborhoods are called Hutongs and there are many still in existence.  They are a sort-of cloistered-town-house type affair but each Hutong has public bathrooms as many of the living spaces lack indoor plumbing.  We stayed in a hutong that was a mix of old housing and new hip stores and restaurants catering to tourists many of whom are Chinese and young, rich Beijingers
  • The Chinese outside of the major cities still have a subsistence style life with a 1/3rd acre farm and perhaps a pig, a cow, or some chickens to look after
  • Most people retire at 60.  The elderly we saw are quite active looking after grandchildren, exercising in the park (vigorously), dancing in public dance sessions (traditional Chinese folk dances as well as swing dance), and of course, working doing lots of other things than the jobs that kept them busy until they were 60

    Seniors playing Chinese version of hackeysack

Categories: China | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “China Fun Facts and Observations

  1. Scott Harris

    Hello Goldman family. Looks like you are all having a fantastic time. I had no idea you were in China. Robb and I just came back last Tuesday after 8 solid days of planes, trains, automobiles, and meetings in 8 cities including Shanghai, Hefei, Guangzhou, Xiamen and many more. We must have just missed you. I have never consumed more food in a week than on this trip. Every lunch and dinner had 12-16 courses. You need to ask Robb about boiled cow hoof. He tried it, but I don’t think he will be serving it to his kids any time soon.

    Can’t wait to see more posts. Enjoy and send my regards. Scott

    • Hey, we should have met up. We could have checked out some more factories for you guys while we were there. Did you eat boiled cow hoof? Tasty?

  2. Actually 11 cities in 8 days! Boiled Cow Hoof, jellyfish, tripe, fish-head soup, pig ears, preserved eggs (the grossest), goose, chicken gizzard (maybe), and many others. I ate everything they put in front of us and liked some more than other. Scott picked his spots more. Your trip sounds amazing! So glad it is all going well.

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