Returning Home to China & the Quirks of Chinese Airports

Chinese airports have free hot water dispensers, alcohol and tobacco stores sell crabs and many other quirks of traveling through China!

On December 23rd I left China for the first time since it became my home 5 months ago. Isaac and I visited Thailand and had the tropical honeymoon of our dreams! 10 days later, our bags were packed and we were headed back home, to China.

Compared to our slightly chaotic journey to Thailand that you can read about here, going back was a breeze. We giggled as we filled out our immigration forms, ticking “returning home” as the reason for our visit. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe that we actually live in China!

We had just spent 10 days in paradise and loved every moment of it. From sunbathing on the white sand beaches scattered with colorful shells, swimming in warm crystal-clear water to getting woken up by palm-tree hopping monkeys, it was perfect. But we were still excited to return home.

There were many things that we missed about China, including:

  • Toilets where you can flush toilet paper
  • No giant spiders, ants, lizards or snails watching you pee
  • Hot water in every sink and shower
  • Taxi drivers who know their way around the city and don’t refuse to look at a map it they don’t
  • Not-spicy food that actually isn’t spicy!
  • Street food that doesn’t give you diarrhea
  • Being able to buy alcohol in a store whenever you want
  • Stores selling wine
  • Finally, the lax rules resulting in a sense of freedom that can only be found in China

Sadly, people always tend to miss whatever they don’t have at a given moment. So, naturally, once we were back in China we missed the fresh air, clean ocean, ridiculously cheap food and of course, Thai weather! It was fascinating to see how different Thailand was to China, despite their proximity.

Since this was our first time experiencing Chinese airports, let me list a few things that surprised us about them:

  • Fresh crabs are sold EVERYWHERE. Even the alcohol and tobacco store specialize in crab!
  • Hot water dispensers can be found near all sitting areas and even on some planes! It’s free and mostly used for instant noodles. Finding cold (or room temperature) water on the other hand can be a challenge…
  • There are free charging points all over the place. USB slots and regular Chinese sockets are available for everyone to use. Did you know that you can plug standard European and US chargers into Chinese sockets? It’s not recommended, but my laptop hasn’t blown up yet!
  • WiFi is also free and relatively quick by Chinese standards, so don’t forget to show off that you are traveling on Facebook.
  • Airlines will sometimes have fun free promotional activities. Southern China took photos of us against an airplane backdrop and gave us free photo-key chains!
  • On over-night layovers, you can sleep just about anywhere. Forget hard seats or the smelly floor, if it’s late at night, find a closed restaurant and sleep on their comfortable benches. They won’t kick you out and will set up quietly as to not wake you up at 6 AM.

To summarize, Chinese airports are quite amazing! You can snack cheaply on instant noodles, chicken feet, pocky, buy freshly squeezed orange juice (15 RMB or $2) and drink a beer (10 – 25 RMB or $1-3) while streaming shows and charging your electronics! Oh and don’t forget the crabs! I’m just not sure if they are ready to eat, raw or even still alive when you buy them…




Author: olenakagui

The bug-biting blogger bitten by the travel bug. Writing articles and blogs since 2012.

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