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10 Aug

Health and hygiene in China

Especially when you’ve just arrived in China, your body has to get used to the new environment; the climate, the food and the time zone. How do you stay healthy in China? In this blog we would like to share some practical tips with you.

Water
We highly recommend for you not to drink tapwater. Instead, you can buy bottled water, but first check whether it’s sealed well. You can also buy huge quantities of 5 liters, which is handy if you stay for a longer period of time at one place. It’s possible to drink tapwater, but make sure that it’s boiled before you drink it. The same goes for water used for tea or coffee. When in restaurants, ask for a bottle of water, tea or ‘rè shuǐ’ (热水), Chinese for hot water. In public places there is plenty of free (hot) water. Furthermore, many homes and schools also have water dispenses. 

Street food and raw salads
Many travel organisations advise travellers not to eat street food. However, we think that there are so many things you should try anyway. If you buy street food, make sure that you use common sense, for example avoid food that smells bad (except for ‘stinky tofu’) or food that doesn’t look good. Be sure that meat is cooked well and that the food looks fresh. For Chinese people, contrary to Dutch people, it is not normal to eat raw vegetables. If it is listed on the menu, they’ve probably washed it with cold tapwater and that is not always reliable. If you order a salad in a western restaurant, it should not cause any problems.

Mosquitoes
In some areas there are many mosquitoes, especially in the summer or autumn. Make sure you bring an anti-mosquito spray with you or you can buy it over there. People in China usually use a green herbal oil called ‘fēng yóu jīng’ (风油精). This oil works well against mosquito bites. Furthermore, in China there is a specific incense that keeps mosquitoes away. The herbal oil is available at pharmacies and you can buy incense at a Chinese supermarket.

Medicine
You can buy medicine at a local pharmacy or at a western drugstore. At local pharmacies you can buy western as well as Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is often made of Chinese herbs. Despite the fact that these medicines work well against sickness, we recommend you to bring your own basic medicine with you, like painkillers, just to be sure.

Toilets
There are many public toilets in China, however they do not always have toiletpaper. Therefore, you should make sure that you always bring tissues with you. Furthermore, be aware that there are a lot of ‘squatting toilets’. In China, these kinds of toilets are considered to be more hygienic than western toilets.

Insurance
Last but not least, make sure you arrange an international travel insurance before leaving. Like this you will be, among other things, insured against medical expenses abroad. It’s also better to take precautionary measures before you leave, such as getting advice about any necessary vaccinations you might need to have . When you are joining the Culture Plus Programme, you will retain your standard health insurance in the Netherlands.

With these tips and information we hope that you will have a healthy stay in China!

Written by Hoda Maksoud, Intern at China Plus

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