In honor of our book, "A Stingray Bit My Nipple! True Stories from Real Travelers," we've compiled some funny and touching anecdotes that could only have come from the People's Republic.
You just ordered a new suit
"At six foot four and 380 pounds, I got used to standing out while in Chongqing, China. People stared, some folks patted my stomach, and a few even walked into street poles while looking me over. One shopkeeper took it a step further. He ran out of his store and motioned for me to stand still, then hurried back inside. He emerged with a tape measure and proceeded to measure my height and girth, each time holding it up to the small crowd that had gathered. I knew enough of the culture not to take offense—I was being paid an honor." Clarence Holbrook, Loveland, Colo.
Shaggy goes to China
"My friend and I rented bikes and cycled out to the village of Baisha, outside of Lijiang, China. As we were exploring the town, a friendly woman invited us to her home. We walked to her house, where we enjoyed tea and peanuts. Then she pulled out a box of traditional dresses and cheerily motioned for me to try one on. After dressing us up, she paraded us around her courtyard, taking pictures with our cameras. We gradually realized that she expected a modest tip, which we were more than glad to give for such a bizarre experience." Rich Fowler, San Francisco, Calif.
Cutting to the chase
"While studying abroad in Beijing, I visited the Great Wall—but in a strange twist, I became the tourist attraction. The locals marveled at my long blond hair and asked me to pose for countless photos. One vendor approached me and commented on my 'golden' hair. I smiled and nodded. 'Golden hair,' she said. 'I buy.' I gave her a strange look and declined. She started offering me money. Not wanting to give up my hair, I kept refusing. She got agitated and walked away. I was heading back to the bus when she came chasing after me with a pair of scissors and yelling, 'Golden hair! Golden hair!' I ran faster than I had in a long time." Nicole Andersen, Santa Barbara, Calif.
"Easy-egress" is more like it
"Moms and grandmas on our Interhostel tour of China were intrigued with the easy-access pants worn by diaperless toddlers. It became our mission to photograph a youngster wearing them, but this proved difficult: As soon as parents would see us eyeing their little one, they'd whisk their child around, assuming we wanted to capture the baby's face. After one Beijing dad presented me with several front view photo ops, I waited until his attention was elsewhere, then snuck up from behind." Nancy Shephard, Stockton, Calif.
Like your husband isn't an animal
"My mother, my husband, and I noticed that most Chinese people dress formally in China. In fact, it wasn't uncommon to see Chinese tourists in suits and ties. When we got to Guilin, the weather was unseasonably warm, and my husband wore shorts. A Chinese girl soon wrapped herself around my husband's leg. She was fascinated with his hairy legs, petting his knee like he was an animal." Delia Rhodes, Jamestown, N.C.
We'd rather eat the stick
My husband and I try to fit in by eating the local delicacies. We ate ant eggs in Mexico, and llama and guinea pig in Peru, but while in Hong Kong we finally put a stop to the tradition. Walking toward the Temple Street night market, we found a store that sold sun-dried foods such as mushrooms and shark fins, but what really caught our eye was one local dish we'd never try—lizard on a stick. Macarena Scalia' South Miami, Fla.