How To Avoid The Dangers That Lurk Within China

danger in ChinaChina is a massive, beautiful country. You have all types of cultures around the country with plenty of food, locals, and historic places to experience. This is a country that would take years to fully unravel, but with any country there are some dangers.

Due to China’s economics and strict government rule the people on the bottom of the economic ladder suffer, and when people suffer their actions tend to become irrational, and radical.

If your planning a trip to China then I hope you will continue reading. There isn’t any reason to be afraid of China once you know what to look out for.
Normal people travel with some baggage. That might be a purse, suitcase, or a couple of bags. Whatever type of luggage you have make sure you don’t lug it around at night. China is crawling with pickpockets and muggers; they thrive at night. So I recommend that when you do go out at night you aren’t carrying something that could create a confrontation.

pickpocket kidsInstead of taking a purse or bag try to use a wallet and wear it on the front side of your body. The front side of your body is the easiest place to detect a potential pickpocket. You’ll be able to feel them much, much closer. It also could potentially change the mind of the would-be thief. Giving you the freedom to not worry and enjoy your trip.

toilets in China
Western toilets are used for restaurant seating and decor.

Another thing many first time China travelers don’t know is the poor sanitation. They don’t have western toilets much of China. American style toilets are usually labeled with a “handicapped” sign. Toilet paper is also another issue. They either don’t have it, or they don’t use it. So you might want to bring some of your own. Remember to throw it away in the trash. The toilets aren’t made for our toilet paper and one flush could get messy very quickly.

Speaking of public places keep in mind a certain scam. We’ll call it the student scam. To sum it up people — usually teens or young adults — will attempt to lure you into a restaurant of some sort and have you pay ridiculous amounts of money for a meal or snack. They’ll usually ask you if you can help them to work on their English speaking or writing. This is a scam, but thousands upon thousands of tourist every year fall prey to it. Don’t be one of them.

The “student” only wants to get you into the doors of a restaurant that hikes up its prices in order to profit from your ignorance. China is a wonderful place to travel and you will have loads of fun. You’ll learn, laugh, and play in the country but you have to be vigilant.

A Homeless Guy on the Great Wall, in the Forbidden City, and more – Slideshow Saturday

In 2001, I was a homeless guy but I decided to go to China. In my first days, I climbed the Great Wall of China, visited the Temple of Heaven, and walked through Tiannaman Square. These are some of the pictures I took in those first days in China. I’m happy to finally share them.

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I was a Homeless Guy in China – Flashback Friday

American Vagabond in China

Back in 2000, just when the dot-com crash was happening – I quit my job at a company called Tech Planet, bought a VW van for $150, moved out of my house, and decided to write a book about how to live without being a wage slave. Eventually, that book turned into Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagobond. The Portland Mercury wrote my favorite review of it in which they actually compared me to one of my literary heroes – Jack Keroac. All of that however, came later. By the end of 2000, I was growing increasingly tired of living in a van in Seattle rain and was looking at options of either driving south to Mexico or finding some other way to stay warm without being a wage slave. My brother, trying to explain why I should be grateful to live in the USA, said something like “You should see how people in China live…” which I took completely the wrong way. I decided to go to China.  There was one problem – I was a homeless guy without any money…so I took my last $100 and went to one of the Native American casinos along I-5 – I knew I would win. I put my money in a slot machine and won closet to $1500. Next I bought a ticket to Beijing. Then I went back to the casino and won another $2000 on the same slot machine! That’s how my international travel started.

I parked my VW van in my mom’s backyard and then hitch hiked back to Seattle. My friends dropped me off. I went through customs and was on my way. There was a connecting flight in Vancouver, British Columbia. When we landed, I had to run through the Vancouver airport to make my flight – as I ran, I saw TV’s playing footage of the huge Nisqually earthquake that had hit Seattle Tacoma International Airport – the same airport I’d just left. These were early days in the internet – I didn’t have a smart phone (no one did) and I didn’t have a laptop or access to the web. It would be days before I found out the details of the quake because I would have to get to China, find an internet cafe or English language newspaper, and frankly, I had more pressing concerns. I hadn’t made any arrangements for where I would stay or what I would be doing in China.

Beijing kids 2001
These were the first Chinese people to speak to me in English “Hey Mister, Take Picture” I wonder where they are now..


I didn’t have any credit cards, hotel reservations, or anything else. I’d bought a Lonely Planet China Guidebook the day before in Seattle. Essentially, I was a scrungy 29-year-old homeless guy who arrived in the Beijing Airport without a clue. It was awesome. I had astounding culture shock. I had about $1500 in US currency – I changed $500 over to Chinese Yuan, figured out how to get on and pay for a bus and decided I would get off at the twelfth stop. No reason.

View from my beijing hotel room
This is the view from my first Beijing Hotel Room


Very few Chinese seemed to speak English and I didn’t speak any Mandarin. I got off at the 12th stop and with the help of a friendly Chinese workman who spoke no English managed to figure out where I was using street signs and the Lonely Planet maps. There was a hotel nearby and I managed to find it, paid two nights rent, and locked myself in my room with the snacks I’d bought along the way. For two days I crammed Mandarin learning some basic phrases, directions, etc – I used the Lonely Planet to figure out what I wanted to do in China, and I slept off my jetlag.

American Vagabond in China
There was heavy smog and a sand storm in Beijing when I arrived


When I emerged two days later, I was ready to climb the Great Wall of China, visit Tiannamen Square, and visit the Forbidden City. I had also located a fun sounding backpacker’s hostel and some internet cafes. I was ready for China. I had one month before my return flight to Seattle and my visa expiration date – but I already knew that I was going to burn that flight and stay in Asia for a while.

Tomorrow for Slideshow Saturday – I’ll share some of the pictures I took of those first days in China – climbing the wall at Badaling, the Forbidden City, and Tiannaman Square. These were film days – so I don’t have hundreds of shots – still, it’s fun to finally share them.

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