Chinese Data Dump
First of all, every day was pre-planned, and generally lasted 12+ hours, so I was and am beat. I'm still not sure if everything was planned by the government, but they certainly knew we were in town, and did their best to make a favorable impression.
The #1 value meal at KFC in China is a hamburger, fries, and a Pepsi product. The #2 is the same, except the sandwich is a spicy chicken sandwich.
Whenever you tell someone in China that you are from Kentucky, they immediately say "KFC!"
I saw obvious knock-offs of KFC, McDonald's, Starbucks, and Home Depot. They are in plain view, and on the most populous streets. Of course, you can buy your product knock-offs on the street. North Face jackets and Rolex watches are very common, and several came home with my classmates.
On my last night in China, on Shanghai's famous for shopping Nanjing Road, I was propositioned for sex five times in less than an hour.
Every time I dropped something, or missed something obvious, someone, typically an older male, tapped me on the shoulder and suggested a solution by using his hands. For example, I dropped a coin onto the street two nights ago, and someone tapped me on the shoulder, pointing to where it had landed on the street. This was a common, and wonderful, practice.
Off the beaten path, and sometimes on it, you could buy all sorts of incredible foods, such as squid on a stick. I avoided them all.
There was a Taco Bell Grande, and it was mid-scale. It looked like a decent casual restaurant, more along the lines of a Schlottsky's or Fazzoli's. A burrito was over four dollars! I laughed and left without eating.
It's easy to forget and have a bit of water accidentally. At a meal at Papa John's pizza, I forgot to take the ice out of the Coke, and was somewhat sick for half a day. I'm glad I didn't have a full glass of water.
Most people thought Beijing was very dry, which had a bad effect on their systems. I did not have this problem. Most enjoyed Shanghai more, but for the first day it made my lips feel like they were about to break apart.
The smog was thick in both cities, but Shanghai was the worst. The smell outside of our hotel in Beijing was of a sewer. These need fixing, and soon.
Number of pandas in Beijing zoo: 6
Number of panda items throughout the city: Innumerable
I asked an American with local ties about what China should do to fix their system, especially when concerning corruption and pirated goods. His response was that the Chinese most likely feel that they should do nothing. Why should they, with 10% growth a year? The system's working! And you can see how they'd think that.
(Exchange Rate: $1= 8.2144 yuan)
Typical cab ride: 20 yuan
Value meal at McDonalds and KFC: 18 yuan
Coke at convenient store: 2 yuan
Full body 45 minute Hong Kong massage: 218 yuan
Foot Massage, 45 minutes: 40 yuan
Beijing subway ride: 3 yuan
Entrance to most sites: 10-20 yuan
Stuffed Panda: 24 yuan
Typical pack of cigarettes: 10-15 yuan (ranging from 2 to 50 yuan)