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  • Writer's pictureKristin

China: Now vs. 5 Years Ago


Although there were some things that haven't changed since we lived in China five years ago, we also noticed some major changes. What is amazing is that those changes have happened within a span of 5 years, as that is traditionally not a long period of time. Here are a few of our observations....


  • A lot of smoking by men -- no such thing as smoke-free restaurants, etc.

  • People cutting in line (i.e. when standing in line at train station ticket office, McDonalds, etc.).

  • Men and women hacking and spitting on the sidewalks. However, I do think people are becoming more conscious of this, and it's something you rarely see the younger generations doing.

  • Many of the bathrooms stink and don't have toilet paper or soap for washing hands. However, places like McDonalds had hand sanitizer available for use.

  • We also still saw some babies still wearing split-pants. This something several babies and toddlers in China wore when we were living there, as well as this trip. Many Chinese parents learn how to monitor the signs of their children to help them go to the bathroom without wearing traditional diapers.


  • The biggest difference was the increase in vehicles! For example, in Shijiazhuang in 2006 the bike parking areas were all completely full. However, now these bike lots aren't full; and instead parts of the sidewalk are used for vehicle parking spaces as they didn't have enough parking lots.

  • Of the bikes still on the streets, more of them are motor bikes or mopeds, and there were less traditional bicycles than there were 5 years ago.

  • More modern and faster trains. In fact, later this year in June they will open the new fast-speed train service between Beijing and Shanghai. It will be even faster than the Japanese Bullet Trains!

  • Didn't seem to be as much litter in the street.

  • A little less honking by vehicles.

  • Coffee is a little more popular with the locals, but mostly as something they'd drink while out and about.

  • More milk-based drinks like smoothies or milk teas. They even have the heated vending machine drinks available, like in Japan.

  • A little more environmentally conscious...(1) All the city trash cans we saw had a recyclable and non-recyclable sides; and (2) one of the grocery stores in Shanghai was even charging for plastic bags.

While we really enjoy going to new places to explore, it was still fun to go back to China and visit where our relationship started, as well as see how much has changed within a relatively short period of time.


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