Comparison Test: Eastern and Central Asia

China

Must visit:
Great Wall
Forbidden City
The Bund
A traditional town

Transport:
Reasonable, if packed, subway systems in Shanghai and Beijing
Do NOT take 3rd class trains.  Book a few days ahead for a soft seat train
Buses are plentiful between towns and a bit easier than trains for an equivalent price
City buses are impossible to use unless you speak Chinese

English spoken:
1%.  An English sign is no guarantee that the people in the shop speak English.

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Can I drink the water?
No

Touts/scams/annoyances:
Everywhere.  Watch out for people trying to take you to tea houses or art galleries, or to go somewhere to practise English
Chinese people don’t queue.  You have to push in or they will push in front all the time
Watch out for spitting

Pro:
Some very old things

Con:
Hard to get around if you don’t know Chinese
Toilets without doors
Not that cheap

Driving:
Lights may have some effect on drivers, but they will never give way to pedestrians

Fitness:
Most residential building complexes have some fitness equipment around if you look.

Costs:
Meal Y5-20
Hostel Y50-80/night
Subway fare Y2
Laundry Y20/kg

Comment:
Learn some basic Chinese before you go.

Rating: Uncivilised/10

South Korea

Must visit:
The DMZ

Transport:
Seoul has a good subway

English spoken:
70%

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Can I drink the water?
No

Touts/scams/annoyances:
None that I saw in 2 days

Driving:
Mostly obeyed the rules

Fitness:
They have proper gyms

Costs:
Hostel SKW16000-20000/night
Meal SKW5000-10000

Pro:
Civilised!!

Con:
Expensive

Rating: Good/10

India

Must visit:
Rajpath
Red Fort
Delhi Museum

Transport:
Delhi has a good Metro.
Rickshaws are everywhere and constantly trying to make you use them

English spoken:
90%

Touts/scams/annoyances:
Rickshaw drivers will CONSTANTLY try to pick you up
I had one man try to tell me that a clearly open part of the road was closed
Counterfeit water bottles, filled from the local tap.

Can I drink the water?
NO!

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
Yes – children, unsuccessfully, in Jaipur

Pro:
Exotic
Cheap

Con:
3rd world sanitation
Can’t eat anything
Hawkers everywhere

Driving:
RIDICULOUSLY BAD

Fitness:
Difficult.  You can sometimes run early in the morning.  There are few suitable open spaces unless your hotel has one.

Costs:
Cheap hotel room R300
1l water R10-20
Meal at a restaurant R150-300
Street food R25
Laundry R300-400/load at hotels

Comment:
I went with a group, and was very glad I did.
The men all wear flares?!

Rating – Will not be returning/10

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