So, we tend to do these TL;DRs whenever we come back from traveling. We’ve done them on Australia, Japan, Europe, and Toronto. Now for one on Beijing and China. Hooray! I’m sure we’ll do one comparing LA’s Koreatown to Korea’s, umm, Koreacountry when we get back at the end of the month!

Back to Beijing, though, apart from the things we mentioned, there were a few other things we found interesting that we hope maybe you could help shed some light on.

Namely, we spoke with one of the event organizers at the conference we were attending. She’s a German girl living in Beijing. We asked her if she has a similar experience to us, in that Korean people often ask us if we’re American. She said no, people in Beijing often ask her if she’s Russian. Russian saram? Russian saram!? We asked her if there was the same kind of connotation there with asking a girl if she’s Russian as there is here in Korea, and she was totally shocked. So, for those of you in the know…is there a similar connotation in Beijing and China, or is it just what we’re experiencing here in Korea?

Another difference we found in Beijing: taxis. They’re still pretty cheap like taxis in Seoul, but it seems so much harder to get a taxi in Beijing than it is here. We only got into a Rickshaw after waiting for 20 minutes and not getting any taxis at all. I’m glad we didn’t get a taxi that night, though, because it was an absolutely wonderful experience and I’d gladly ride those instead of taxis for the rest of my life. SOOO FUN! We also saw a lot of “black cars” or something along those lines: black cars would stop in front of us and ask us where we’re going, but our guide would ignore them and only try to get the regular taxis, supposedly because the black cars aren’t licensed or something like that. Anyone have more info on this? We never experienced anything like that in Seoul.

Anyhow, we’d love to hear what you guise think. For those of you who have been to Beijing, what was your experience like, and what was different? We’d love to go to Beijing again. The food alone is reason for us to go. Korea: y u no have Chinese food here? YOU’RE SO CLOSE! Bring me some deep fried beans! Do it!

If you’d like some delicious deep fried beans from China, click on this pretty button below. Free beans for you!

  1. I love Shanghai anyway. haha

  2. Shanghai is quite different from Beijing. China is quite big. Come to Shanghai

  3. I went to China for a month and stayed in Xiamen for most of that time. I was really surprised to find how many trees,specifically palm trees, were there like woah. In New York we have these little trees in tiny squares of dirt on the side of the road but Xiamen had these huge expanses of land dedicated to just trees, really impressive trees might I add. What was a little less surprising (but still blew my mind) was the number of signal lights (is that what they’re called?) at the end of crosswalks. Only about half of the streets had them.I know that it’s pretty much useless seeing how the traffic lights are just suggestions, but it would be a step in the right direction.

  4. The reason that the traffic is bad in China, is because the police and the government don’t care much now of who is offending the law while they’re driving as they’ve got all those CCTV cameras on he roads. Meaning whenever anyone offend the traffic law they can just find out the details of that person using recordings.

    P.s. if you want to try some good food in China I would recommend you to try and visit Guangzhou as it’s quite famous in terms of the food there.

  5. I just got back from China about 2 weeks ago and while there I visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao. In all those cities, I feel like the staring at dark/darker-skinned foreigners is much worse than pale/paler-skinned foreigners. As a black person, people automatically assumed that I was African and questioned were doubtful when I told them I was American. On a daily basis, I would have huge groups of people on public buses sport me on the sidewalk and stare at me until the bus pulled off; I also had bus drivers turn their heads 180 degrees and watch me while driving. No circumstance seemed like a good reason to not stare at the dark-skinned foreigner. It was extremely uncomfortable, annoying, and sometimes demeaning (when they would point and laugh), but it is just a huge culture difference that foreigners need to be aware of before going to China.

    In Qingdao, if a person has blonde hair and blue eyes, instead of people assuming they are Russian, based on my experience, people typically assume that they are German. Qingdao used to be a German colony, so it is heavily influenced by German culture. While I was there, I learned that it also still has a high population of German foreigners, which may be the reason for this assumption. Overall, it seems like people in China are still very ignorant about foreigners.

  6. I’ve been in China since April. You guys just pretty much described everything I’ve experienced. I haven’t been to Beijing yet though. The shirt up is a common thing where I’m at too. I found it quite odd at first. But I’ve seen it so much it doesn’t catch my attention as easily as it used to. I get stared at EVERYWHERE! I live in a part of China where there aren’t many foreigners so everywhere I go I get like what you described with the guy on the bicycle. There was a guy once that stepped in front of a bus because he was looking back at me. Also a guy who tripped on the stairs because he was staring at me. I also get the Chinese word for foreigner or American shouted at me all the time, as well as the slang word. I now walk down the street with my ear buds in so I don’t have to hear that anymore. The taxis are super cheap where I’m at. The occasional personal car will pull over for me if I’m trying to get a taxi. Here it’s just people who want a few extra bucks. So they use their own car to taxi people around. They aren’t licensed to do so, but they do it anyways. Pollution is bad here like the sky will be a hazy yellow sometimes, but it hasn’t bothered me too bad. Traffic is crazy and the way you described the lanes is the same here. But I still think the traffic I experienced in Sri Lanka was worse. I was asked only one time if I was Russian. I think the thing with Russian in Korea was because women from there used to be sex trafficked into Korea, so yeah…
    It’s interesting that your short experience in Beijing was almost like what I’m going through living here where I am in China. (And I know this is like super late replying to this, but I’ve been busy with teaching and am really behind on watching your videos. :( I feel I’ve failed as a Nasty…responsibility kicks my butt!)

  7. My main problem in China is the pollution. I’m accustomed to breathing clean, canadain air, not the densely polluted stuff in BeiJing (or anywhere else in China,for that matter). Every time I visit, I get sick, get athsma, or something along those lines.

    The driving sucks. That’s all I have to say.

    Black Cars are pretty much illegal taxis. They aren’t normally too bad andif you’re caught riding in them , it’s the driver that’ll get in trouble, not you (especially if you say that you’re a foreigner and that you didn’t know) but I guess your guide would get in trouble with her company if they found out she let you ride in an illegal taxi… I rode one once, and it was perfectly fine and even cheaper than regular taxis (if I remember correctly).

  8. I was in Beijing for several days before settling in South-West China for my semester abroad. I was lucky–the weather was beautiful, no smog to be seen. It also happened to be ridiculously hot, which–not sure if that trade-off is totally fair. Almost tricked into believing smog was an invention, but a month into my stay it was definitely noticeable. I would wipe my nose and my tissue would be black! Many companies pay employees an incentive to work in China. Pollution and hardship compensation.

    MAY I JUST SAY that your description of Rules of the Road: China is completely on point? More of a suggestion than a rule, that. I learned to look up at the skyline and pretend I was enraptured with the architecture and not the calamity that is Chinese roadways. To be fair: I never witnessed a motor vehicle accident during my entire stay.

    I was warned about the staring–I didn’t realize people would want to take pictures, too! I threw peace signs at people subtly and not-so-subtly aiming camera phones in my direction. I didn’t mind it, but thought it funny that I’m in somebody’s photo album right now.

    China has much to offer. I’m glad you took the opportunity to visit. I hope you’ll be able to visit less populated regions someday!

  9. Ps china might be the 4th largest country smaller then the USA but…. Canada is second largest. Yes i know russa is first. But sorry canada is still big then the usa.

  10. I really dont like it that most asian people will assume i am Russian. I am Ukrainian and everything thats going on with my country because of there president. I dont want to be considered Russian. Not just that i think is flat out rude to assume that someone who is white is russian. asian people dont like it when canadians assume things. Chinese people hate it when people call them korean or japanese. Koreans hate when you call them japanese and reverse. For myself here in canada i actually get mistaken for half korean. I am tempted to just go with it lol

  11. China is the 4th largest country in the world, slightly smaller than the US.

  12. I listened to you guys talking on your SBS radio show about Millennium Boy and I agree completely with you. I do think, however, that a lot of K-pop fans are getting a little carried away with the hate, and I’d love to see you guys cover this to raise awareness about what cover groups and tribute bands are about and why they shouldn’t be delivering so much hatred to those guys!

  13. oh, and yes, here in Sichuan, the bellies are OUT! :-) It’s that time of year again….

  14. Hi I am an expat who has been living in southwest China for 3 years. Although I live in China, most of my students are Korean, so I have found your videos to be very insightful with regards to understanding my students and also very entertaining! I love watching them! Your Korea vs. China videos have been my faves so far. You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head about the near-death pedi-cab experiences, the 180 degree staring-while-driving, and the less-than-healthy air. It’s a part of the daily experience. Also, I’ve never been to India, but once my friend came to visit me in China directly from India and the first thing she said when she got off the plane was “Wow, the traffic is so organized here.” haha! Anyway thanks for doing what you guys do. You’re great! :-)

  15. Seriously thought. The air in china is terrible! I loved visiting but I have asthma and lord I was suffering! I think the most disturbing part was after walking around outside for a few hours, if you felt your skin, you had a good layout or grit that would rub off

  16. I have a question~
    Can you guys tell us your opinions on the stuff that’s happening to Exo and SM?
    Such as Kris’s lawsuit and Baekhyun’s relationship with Taeyeon?

  17. Ok, if you want to get killed by a car I really want you to come to Vietnam. Holy Farts! It is so dangerous and crazy there that you can’t go out on to the streets without later realizing how precious life is. When the light goes green every single “car”( or should I say death trap motorcycles) goes at once. There would be like a three way street and every single motorcycle would go at once………on all 3 streets! The people are like blind or something, they would be jaywalking across when the motorcycles are like trying to kill them. And they don’t care! There would be asmall street and a traffic jam is going on, and people would be walking between the motorcycles trying to sell food. And you thought that you would be safe in the taxi. Nooooooooo! The taxi divers would drive while talking to they’re wives on the phone while they drive you! And you, the passenger(only in the back seat), would not be breaking a law if you don’t want to put your seat belts on. You would be dead if you get in a car accident! But it’s ok, maybe the guy on the under protective motorcycle died first to break your crash.

  18. HAHAHAHAHA, the shirtless thing!!! We were walking through Tienanmen Square when one of our guys decided to “do as the Beijingers do.” And up his shirt went. I still have pictures from it. To this day, when people ask me about China I always mention this. As for here in London, I’m surprised at how many people I see with no shirts. I think it’s just the area I live in. I don’t see it as much when I’m in central London.

    And… how people don’t mind defecating or urinating in public spaces. The split pants for babies threw me off at first, but not as much as a wall full of grown men urinating. And we weren’t even near a pub.

    The Russian thing is totally normal. I was in a city closer to the border of Russia and we had Russians along with Chinese people approaching us as well. My friends even had one coming up and speaking in Russian before he realized they were American. I don’t think it has the same connotation as it does in Korea (though I could be totally wrong).

    Another thing that threw me off guard was how many pictures were taken of us. At one point we had people following us around with professional cameras snapping pictures. People would walk up and hand me their kids or come and repeat “Picture! Picture!” I ended up asking if I could have their pictures as well just to remember how many people asked for one. The people I stayed with had a three year old daughter who was blonde haired and blue eyed. They would sit and stare at restaurants, take pictures, give her candy, and even try to touch her. At one point, I had to pick her up and carry her through the mall so the people would stop harassing her. They were consistently fascinated as if a doll had come to life in front of them.

    Also, I remember the bluntness of the Chinese. I’m not fat by any standard, but the shop keepers would always try to sell me bigger sizes. One woman, who was bigger than me, looked at me and said “No, you need a large, you’re fat.” We did hire two black taxis (You’re right, they are unlicensed by companies) to help our group. The driver of one of the cars chased down the overweight people in the group saying “Fat people in car.” He even patted the stomach of the largest guy in our group and asked him in Chinese if he had a watermelon in there.

    China is awesome though. Funny, but super awesome. I would move there permanently in a heartbeat.

  19. TL;DR Question
    Where I live, views on divorce are varied. And are different for different religions, and family views. After watching a Drama I started wondering Is it frowned upon, and considered a failure in Korea. Or is it just not talked about much. -Thank you

  20. Hi. I’m Lauren from LA. You guys pretty much summed up my experience in a nutshell. My classmates and I were blessed with the opportunity to in 2012 and one of the girls got her foot run over by a scooter/bike on THE FIRST DAY. I’m mean not even 15 after we stepped outside our hotel.
    I was surprised by all the shirtless people, but it seed to me like most of them were older men.
    Don’t feel bad about the stares and picture taking. Yes you’re weird (but in a good way) but that’s not the reason why. We were stared at to and asked to take picture ( some with people’s children) and I have locs so that increased the amount of stares I got. It’s really because a lot of Chinese people ( especially those from rural areas) have never seen a real American (or in your case Canadian) outside of tB. We actually had a student from Peking University tell us that we were the first group of American teenagers he’s seem in real life.
    The formally dressed foreigners were probably business people or ex-patriots.

    Despite all that (and even the air) I would definitely go back. I love the food and the atmosphere.

    Did you guys check out the 798 Art District or see some of the really cool graffiti?

  21. are there any korean social media that the general population korean uses? are there any apps? i know there is twitter, but is there anything else. and what korean talk shows/variety shows do you guys watch?

  22. When I traveled to Nepal, I saw people scratching their tummys. Yes, Nepal is a hot country, but it looked very new to me.

  23. TL;DR question:
    Hi, I’m from Belgium and I like watching korean shows, but was actually shocked when I realized something. On the show ” Cheongdamdong 11″ a member from AOA got scolded for one bite of fried chicken. Well, if you check the member their profile, their BMI are too low, which means they are unhealthy underweight. Idols talk about their ( UNHEALTHY) diet like skipping meals as if it is the most normal thing to do! Most of those idols and actors are rolmodels for kids and teenagers. Now my question is: Are Korean people aware of eating disorders? Aren’t the actors, singers and idols (unwillingly) leading people ( especially kids and teenagers) to anorexia and such? What does Korea do to prevent people from having it? In Belgium, such things would have made the front news with A LOT of criticism from the media AND sometimes plaintifss from NGO’s. We also have sort of clinics where they help people with eating disorder. Not only them, but also their family and friends. So they can all understand the disorder better and how to deal with it.

    • I hope they answer this one too! I remember hearing one idol was allowed to have a potato a day or something!! There are tons of out door fitness things in Korea, so wouldn’t people be more up on being really healthy? I noticed in that Kdrama Let’s Eat, one of the characters was on a rice diet. XD

  24. The area I live in (in England) isn’t that busy, but when I go to school (by car), I have to go to this huge roundabout and one of the exits is like the biggest motorway in England called the M6 (I dont need to go in the M6 exit thank gad)
    But, it has a lot of traffic. and it is full of accidents- when i go to school in the car, the radio always says “there is an accident on the m6….” I am never surprised…
    I don’t see random taxis about- we have to call and hire them about 10-20 mins in advance
    But I hardly see a taxi in general.
    Then again, it might be different in othjer ares, I live in a fairly quiet, less urban area, I think its different in places like London

  25. These days there has been ALOT of secret relationships in kpop; which is relevant because Taeyeon(SNSD) and Baekhyun/Bacon(EXO) are now dating, officially since like a day ago…:/. I don’t know why but most of these idols are from SM Entertainment. For example, Jonghyun(Shinee) dated Shinsekyung, Yoona is dating LeeSeunggi, and ALOT more. How are the general public in korea reacting to this? Do you personally think they are overreacting? or not reacting at all? Please enlighten me with your knowledge;) Thanks!!

  26. Hey Simon and Martina,
    I have a question, it seems kinda weird, but, how does Korea react to the FIFA World Cup? I know that South Korea is in it, and how many K-Pop idols showed their support towards the South Korean soccer team. But, is it still popular and do people still watch it even if Korea isn’t in it? I also don’t know if soccer is big in Korea.

  27. Driving is like that in Cairo, too. And horn honking. Constantly! They don’t use turn signals, just horn honks. I didn’t actually drive there, or I’d probably be dead now, but I was on a tour there and rode in a bus…the stuff we saw other drivers doing was just incredible! And not in a good way. I don’t know how they don’t have more accidents.

  28. Haha the Beijing man shirt-roll, well they have to find some way to keep cool in the Beijing summer. food in Beijing is fantastic. Miss the Sichuan food, hot pot, Xinjiang kabobs and Korean BBQ. You guys should visit Hong Kong if you get a chance. Love the show. The Black taxis are just unlicensed cabs. September and October are the months to visit Beijing as all the smog leaves for Korea.

  29. You guys should go to Kuala Lumpur. Traffic is so insane I genuinely thought about writing a will when I was living there. My home country has extremely strict driving rules so nothing prepared me for this (getting a driving license in France is so difficult you wouldn’t believe).
    Guys don’t really show their bodies here (back in France). You will find shirtless teens and young adults playing football in parks when it’s really hot, but that’s about it.

  30. I’m sure someone has already responded for the U.S., but I can say that for the most part, men are not as “modest” as in Korea. So much so that there are some men that maybe should be a little more modest. Now, I’m not talking about lifting up their shirt while in an establishment, but while outside working on the yard, washing the car, or just around the house… or walking down the sidewalk. BUT, I should say that while living in Houston, shirtless-ness happened more around the home, while in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s more “all over the place”…

  31. In England as soon as there’s sun and the temperature is around 17+ many people walk around shirtless. It’s not just the young adults who ‘work out’ but also the older men. In reality this isn’t exclusive to males, a lot of females walk around wearing those bandeau and bra-like tops as soon as the sun hits. You’d be amazed at the number of people you can find shirtless in parks and town centres. Although this is from a town near London rather than London. I’d be curious to know what it’s like over there!

    I’ve been to India about 3 times since my parents love the country so much and the traffic there is the worst I’ve ever experienced!

  32. hi eat your kimchi well i recently watched this korean drama where the girl was asked by an elder woman “what is her age” and then she answered 22 in american age???.. so i just wanted to know if the age in korea is different from what we usually know.. actually here in the Philippines the age of a person here depends on how many years since the day u were born…

  33. Those “black cars” you were talking about are basically regular people trying to make some money by driving people around in their own cars. So its kinda like they are running their own taxi business but its just with their own cars and they charge you depending on where you are going. I have personally been in one once and it was fine but I wouldn’t recommend you taking one of those because they’re not really licensed and its kinda sketchy.

  34. Here in the Philippines there is always traffic everywhere. I live in one of the islands of the country. Here in the city i live in shirtless men are everywhere old and young people. There are so many vehicles, too in the streets and they don’t follow the rules or laws like the street is already small but they will still park their cars parallel to the others.

    TL;DR question: Is there any corruption in the government of Korea???…I’m curious about their politics because here in my country there are bunch of corrupt officials that almost all the news are about the scam that they did.

  35. OMG I suffer when men walk shirtless in Finland ‘cos it’s always those old and, let’s be honest, quite ugly men with their belly hanging and ugh I just can’t ugh…. and the smell! Oh gawd no.

    TL;DR question!!
    I read about sex selling grannies in South Korea. What’s the deal with that???

  36. My friend, who is from Vietnam, says that the driving there is pretty bad. And apparently if someone hits you, some of them may purposely try to hit you again so you would die, so they dont have to pay the hospital bills. This is all according to my friend and her family.
    As for my own country, the driving is pretty bad too but there are a bunch of, not only cars and vehicles, but donkeys or horses dragging carts. Some people are obedient some arent. Some parents allow their young children, youngest i’ve seen was around 2-3yrs old, sit on their lap and let them steer the wheel with them on the drivers seat. No seat belts at all too.

    • I’m born in Belgium but my parents are from Vietnam. What you are saying is partly true. If you hit someone and he is not dead yet, then you have to compensate him by paying for the hospital bills. Sounds logic, right? Well, here is the catch: you have to keep paying him untill he’s fully recovered. If the victim has a handicap from the accident for the rest of his life, then you have to pay him for the rest of your life. Also, some victims who are not seriously injured can always use the accident as an excuse to get money. Most people have a really busy life, because they have to sell streetfood all day to have money to feed their family. So they won’t have time to go to the hospital to check the victim everytime he demands money. It is too burdensome. Sometimes people don’t have a choice. Common/poor people prefer paying an big amount once. For them it’s more difficult to pay a big amount more then once. Their families will get in finance trouble. I don’t say it is okay to hit people on purpose until they die, but rather thinking something is wrong with those people, I would say there is something wrong with the law. On the other side, when a accident happens, people gather to watch and help the wounded ones. If they see that the driver’s trying to flee,they will chase him, catch him and hit him.( not only in Vietnam, it happend once in Belgium). That’s not okay either, but at least the driver cannot flee. There’s also another thing: if a motobiker and a car had an accident, then the car have to compensate the motorbiker. Regardless who’s right or who’s wrong. big vehicule always pays the smaller one. Oh, if you’re thinking ” And the police? aren’t they doing anything?” Well, most of them ( i’m not saying all of them) are on the side of the rich people. I kinda get a feeling it is like the survival of the fittest.

    • also in my country whenever cars stop at a stop light. A bunch of beggars come to windows of cars, either selling, wiping their windows or simply asking for money. My family usually rolls up the windows so they dont have to give them money…

  37. I went to Hong Kong in 2011 and the air wasn’t bad. It was just humid. But THE STARES were TERRIBLE! OMG, SOOO uncomfortable!! Have you seen the movie Inception? If you have, there’s a part where the girl goes into Leonardo DiCaprio’s dream and starts screwing with sh*t and everyone starts aggressively staring at her? That’s EXACTLY how I felt in Hong Kong. It’s the most uncomfortable I have been, and I lived in Japan and now I live in Busan (which is pretty bad with stares but not Hong Kong bad–No one tries to take pictures with me).

    Oddly though, I visited HK over a holiday weekend. But on Monday when the holidays were over, my experience did a 180. I was told that all the mainland China travelers come on the weekend and then go back during the week. Now, I’m not trynna be rude toward people from mainland China, but there was a distinct difference between my experience over the weekend versus on a Monday when all the tourists were gone. So maybe proper Hong Kong’ites are less… er… stare-y? But outside of the food, (THE FOOD!! OMG Chinese food and Dim Sum every morning. Love), I would never go back to China.

  38. TL;DR question!!! Could you talk about hierarchy in the entertainment industry? How does acting/ modeling/ being a Kpop idol compare in Korea? What kind of celebrities are more rich and famous/ have more prestige? Kpop idols are really popular among fans, but what kind of celebrities are most famous overall? What is the modeling industry like in Korea? Can you be famous as a model or is it all about celebrity endorsements? Some idols, like Orange Caramel’s Nana, get called “supermodels”…is that actually a thing?

    • Yes, I agree — good TL;DR question! We sometimes see that K-Pop idols only do it because they want to really break into acting which is considered more ‘elite’ (or was that just simply plot lines from Dream High?) It seems a lot less ‘rigid’ than in other entertainment systems where models crossing over to TV presenters or singers becoming actors isn’t probably taken as well (T.O.P versus Justin Timberlake for example)… is it that once you are famous in Korea you are accepted in any role (whether you are good at it or not…*cough* no names here)?

  39. China’s traffic and driving has always been one of the worst in East Asia. The reason is that the police who are supposed to stop people when driving crazy never do, they will only do it when they feel like it. And even then, you can just pay him off. However, the foreigners and the shirt-rolling is kind of unique for Beijing. I was in Kunming, near Thailand, and you never saw any foreigners or any shirt-rolling. FYI the air is so bad in Beijing that studies show that it takes five years off your life if you live there.

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