For those of you who love generalizations of China in the Western media, we’ve got a doozie for you. The Chicago Sun-Times has a regular feature called “Agent of Travel” where readers will write in a travel related question and someone on the staff will track down the answer. Last week, the headline was “China wear tips: Casual clothes, comfortable shoes.” Enjoy:
I am planning to go to China during the month of August. I would like to know what to pack and what kind of clothing I should wear at that time of year. I will be gone for two weeks.
Yvonne M. Lawson, Homewood
When you go to China, you will be arriving at the end of the offseason. The average temperature is 80 degrees with high humidity. Breathable clothing (cotton and linen) is a must. “Overall, the country is casual,” says Victoria Kuhn, Abercrombie & Kent’s custom tour consultant for Asia and Southeast Asia. “In the more deluxe hotels and restaurants, they wear smart casual.” Women wear slacks, skirts, nice shirts and blouses. Men wear collared shirt and trousers.
To fully enjoy the sites, she says, you need comfortable walking shoes with low or no heels. Sandals aren’t always comfortable if worn while sight-seeing. Don’t forget sunglasses, sunblock, a sunhat and lightweight binoculars for viewing those spectacular landscapes.
During the time of your trip, it will be the rainy season. Be sure to pack a lightweight, preferably non-plastic, raincoat or poncho.
And, a little later, a poncho of a different variety is mentioned …
Author Amy Tan always packs an arsenal of items when she travels to China. She says she has everything from Therm-a-rest chair pads and motion sickness pills (perfect for bumpy bus rides on backroads) to Theraflu and prophylactics to stop any viruses. If someone has a travel emergency, Tan has a remedy within reach. “People find that amusing about me when I go traveling.”
Her motto: Better to be prepared than not.
So, not only do questionee and questioner treat traveling to China as though it was simply a slightly bigger version of San Francisco’s Chinatown — don’t you think you might pack a little differently if you were going to, say, Xinjiang as opposed to Guangdong? — they also make out Amy Tan to be a really big slut when she travels through China. (Shanghaiist is giving Tan the benefit of the doubt and assuming she meant prophylactic gloves.)
What in the world do they mean saying August is the “end of the offseason” in China? And who gives a single average temperature for one of the largest countries in the world?
We wonder how the staff of the Chicago Sun-Times would respond if some had posed this question: I am planning to go to the United States of America during the month of August. I would like to know what to pack and what kind of clothing I should wear at that time of year.
Maybe something like: “Please see April 30 issue where we answered the same question about China. It’s pretty much the same in most countries in the Northern Hemisphere that time of year. But you may want to pack larger prophylactics. Better to be prepared than not!”