Click for Home Page Click for Contact Us Page Click for FAQ's Page Click for About Us Page Click for Sitemap Navigation
Main Menu
Chinese Silk Fan

Making a Silk Fan by Hand In Guilin

Lion Dance

Rural Chinese Ferry

Washing Clothes in the Li River, Guilin

Local Vendors Stall at a Foshan Wet Market

Fish Likes Tacos - Johns Bar, Foshan

Owner of a Dumpling Shop - ShenZhen

Lads Enjoying Street Food - ShenZhen

ZhaoQing University  Stop - Typical of Many Similar Outlets
Useful Advice for Tourists Visiting China
Social Observations - Daily Life
The aim of this section is to give those travelling to China for the first time an insight into the lives of ordinary Chinese People
Life in General

Village Life
Village Life is quite basic in general, and usually consists of hamlets featuring dwellings huddled together, as if for protection. These lie amidst vast fields which normally grow rice or similar main crop. Hamlets occur at roughly 1-mile intervals. Each village will control about 500 acres of dedicated rice producing land. Irrigation channels and smaller, and yet smaller ditches, channel water to where it is required. Some of these will have specific areas where a family will wash themselves, although most homes now have internal shower areas.

Hamlets will normally have several fish breeding ponds, and have trees for fruit and wood burning. There will also be areas for other produce, all run on an allotment type basis. Occasionally one hamlet may specialise in growing bamboo for implements and utensils + associated subsequent farm industry. Most hamlets will have a few small stands of sweet bamboo, which is used as an excellent replacement for sugar

A typical valley will also have more commercial concerns scattered around haphazardly, which may specialise in breeding: fish, chickens, ducks, geese, or pigs etc. Main road junctions will have a couple of shacks selling more general produce, and are also home to motorcycle taxis. The main roads also support an incredible variety of bus services, all of which run extremely regularly. Surrounding hillsides will most likely support managed timber production. This is used for building local houses, as are the less common brick and stone factories. This makes the greater area self-sufficient for all its peoples needs.

State schools are also present near larger villages or small towns, and country children will normally attend the nearest one to their home - often up to 10 miles distant, although nominally their will be a satellite school within a few miles. Children travelling further afield for education will normally be week-day boarders. Today, education is mandatory for all 5 to 16-year olds, and 18 is the norm for finishing. However, children are expected to help the family work the land, and special dispensation is given around sowing and harvest seasons

Homes are connected by alleyways a yard wide. A typical dwelling will have a large general room, with bedrooms on either side. These single story buildings are completed by cooking and washing areas. They often have a small outside yard, or perhaps a vegetable plot nearby. Cooking will invariably be by what I term a 'Chinese Aga', or basically a solid fuelled furnace with holes in the top for pots and woks. Modern homes are usually two stories high, and a lot more spacious. They are built where derelict houses once stood, and cost around Y30, 000 for a three bedroom version with large balcony. These plots are normally only available to respected villagers only.

A typical household will be home to up to four generations. Today the 20 & 30-somethings will live and work in the cities, with rarely boys or girls staying home to continue the family business. However, they do return for planting and harvest seasons, family and cultural events.

Often places may not have mains water. Instead communities will save and pay to install their own water towers, and water is subsequently piped into all homes. Electricity is available in virtually all areas of Guangdong. Mains sewerage is very uncommon. Mains gas extremely rare, although bottles gas is available in most areas

Certain villagers, normally male heads of family, will provide other services to the hamlet. For instance, my wife's father owns one of only two Oxen, which are used for tilling the fields with a wooden single furrow plough (With iron share). One of the younger men has the village's only car - a Daihatsu type minibus. A couple of other boys have air-rifles, and hunting also forms a normal part of a boys upbringing. Usually one person will have turned their front room into a general store - selling very little except for life's basics - beer, rice wine, cigarettes, mosquito repellant's, pot noodles, etc. Finally, each village normally has a Kung Fu patron, who provides Lion Dance and costumes, plus associated music etc - primarily for religious ceremonies and special events. These all come together and function on a community basis

These hamlets are governed by what we would call a Village Council. As with China at large, things happen according to 5-year plans. The Council issues land against payment, and this generally stays with a family over generations. Sometimes people move away and new plots become available. This allows villages to increase their landholdings, swap land for better locations, and allows in new blood - often migrant workers seeking a new start in life. The Council also operates general schemes such as the community toilets, implementing water towers and associated pipework, and it has areas for say, volleyball or basket ball. They also provide community centres and a general council chamber, complete with benches, and large wok cooking facilities set in an annex for village events. This all sounds very organised and 'Grande' - when in actual fact it is all rather laid-back and casual.

Hamlets usually consist of only a few greater families, who have worked the land for many generations. You should immediately note the social impact of this statement. Therefore, marriages would normally take place within a small geographical area, such as how far people could walk or bicycle in order to see each other. Cars and mains electricity have changed this in more recent times, and sending children to University is nowadays quite normal

However, these villages remain very communal places that are inclusive of greater family and friends. In many ways they remind me of my formative years in Ireland: where doors always remain unlocked, and people pop in for no reason other than to pass the time of day - or night. The alleyways support troops of chickens pecking about aimlessly, dogs napping, and a few cats skittering around. These are occasionally disturbed by a passing bicycle, motorbike, or scooter. Children wander in and out of houses looking for treats from distant aunt's. Boys will go sparrow-shooting at midnight, and return hours later to cook the results, whilst imbibing quantities of beer and rice wine. However, at certain times of the year, most notably harvest and sowing seasons; it's all hands to the deck - as there is only man and ox power available! Harvesting rice from the fields and presenting it ready for sale is extremely labour intensive - requiring removing the seeds from the stalks, drying the husks in the sun, and beating them to release the grain, etc. Sure, they still do all this by hand. Try to imagine how many thousands of rice plants it takes to fill a one-hundred weight bag with grain...

City Life
Modern life in any major city in China is remarkably similar to any Western equivalent. We worry about congestion and pollution. Drive cars and motorbikes. Commute. Spend money on hair and beauty treatments. Go out for lunch and dinner, plus late-night drinks or clubs. Virtually all produce is available within a few minutes walk, and life as lived in a rural community detailed above seems a million miles away. People require the latest gadgets and mobile phones. Normal people live in apartments, which feature all things you would expect in the West - with the only exception being an oven, which Cantonese have no knowledge of! Rich people live in houses, complete with private pools and garages.

From a generalised viewpoint, I cannot say city life in modern China is very different at all regarding virtually all areas of life

Town Life
As you would expect, most places that we would call a town = 100, 000 people say; are a mix of the two categories above. Mostly towns are like smaller versions of cities (Of course!), but there are elements of village life thrown into the mix

In general, towns support a lesser degree of Family, whilst playing host to migrant workers who are either: not brave enough, or rich enough, to live in a city. Peasant children may come to a town for education, whilst their elder brethren come for work. In an average sized town, most people will know each other; and especially any Westerners!
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
Search this Website
Search Query
Our Friends
Excellent & Free Online Chinese Language Portal
Cantonese Sheik - Free Online Language Resources
Thousands of free print-friendly Chinese reference sheets, tests and revision aids.
Easy Learning format &
Listen to Spoken Words
British Foreign & Commonwealth Office
British Foreign Office

Resource and Advice for Travellers Worldwide
Chinese Embassy in UK
Chinese Embassy in UK

Information About China
International Relations
Visa & Consular
British Consulate General in China
UK Embassy in China

Information About UK
International Relations
Visa & Consular
Excel Education - Dedicated to Promoting International Languages, Cultural Exchange, and Understanding between Peoples Excel Education
Languages Courses
Study Abroad
Summer Camps
Information for Teachers
Down The
How We Traded Our Ordinary Lives For a Global Bicycle Touring Adventure
Tim and Cindie Travis
See Us in China
The Dreamscheme - A Place where all disadvantaged children can be empowered to make a difference to: Themselves, Their Local Community, and The World!
Empowering Disadvantaged Children & Their Communities = Worldwide
China Exploration and Research Society
Based in Shangri-la,
Yunnan Province
Dedicated to Exploring Remote Areas of China
Committed to Nature Conservation and Preserving Ethnic Cultures & Traditions
Travel China Guide - Your First Call for Holidays and Information about China. Free Community resources, including City guides written by Foreigners who have been there
Based in Xi'an,
China's Premiere Travel Agency and International Travel Community -
Committed to providing:
Best travel deals & current information for all International Travellers
Large Tourist Resources and Galleries
Pearl Dragon

Vast Online Trading and Information Resource
Link goes to Chinese Tourism and Galleries Section
Page Navigation: Top of Page
Link to: - Excellent Hosting and Support Services
Image for Decoration only
    Copyright Webmaster @ ChinaExpats Links