On the road in…China!

China. Huh. What can I really say?

I’ve had to go to China a few times. Once for a consulting job. And a few times in transit in Beijing on my way to Mongolia. It’s a beautiful country once you get out of the cities.

I’ve flown to China on a variety of airlines. Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air China, JAL…I’ll write separate posts about all of them at some stage.

The Great Wall is certainly…Great!

The food in China was very hit and miss. I got sick a few times. Thankfully the Chinese aren’t big on dairy to start with, so that was never an issue. However despite having a local guide for my travels (or when there on business, being there with bilingual colleagues), I was constantly served food that contained gluten or egg.

Getting vegetarian food in China isn’t a huge problem. Though it did happen once that even my guide ordered a vegetarian meal for herself and it came with chicken – so hardly a translation or communication issue. Not sure if it was ignorance or apathy. I’m fairly certain the Chinese understand the concept of vegetarian food, so I suspect it’s just apathy.

Vegan was problematic. The noodles they use in the dishes contain egg. And almost all of the sauces contain wheat based products of some description. My guide understood what vegan meant, didn’t even need to explain it to her, I just said “I’m vegan and gluten intolerant, can you let people know when we go for food?“, and just as I was about to explain, she said “I know what vegan means! That means you can’t eat any animal based foods! And gluten intolerant means no wheat!“. Sadly despite her understanding and her communicating this dietary requirement to restaurant staff, it was regularly ignored. Sometimes I went hungry.

Eventually I got my guide (or work colleagues) to drive me to a local market so that I could pick up some food for myself. They were able to show me which packaged foods were suitable and I could pick up fruit myself.

That was dining out. However I was always staying in 5* hotels, so breakfasts were relatively straight forward. There was always fruit. Always soy milk. Usually some fried tofu. I never starved, but I was often unable to eat what I was served.

Pretty sure street stalls just sell this stuff (scoprions, seahorses etc.) to western tourists so that they can say they ate something gross in China…


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