Chinese guesthouses: what to expect

We’ve been staying in a bunch of great places. With utmost thanks to those of you who gave us money as wedding gifts, we apologize that we haven’t really splurged on any fancy places. In some towns (Yubeng, Litang) this is because there are no fancy places. In other places, this is not because we’re trying to penny pinch, but because really the most important criteria for us is: are the owners/staff nice and English speaking? I feel weird making this a criterion, but being new to the language and the country, we need friendly people who we can ask all the tiny questions that keep coming up, like “how do we get to X?” or “we need to ship some things, where do we do that?” And so we’re mostly going off recommendations from other travelers or internet people, and all the recommendations we get are for mid budget places - between $20-40/night. I guess fancy hotels might make sense more if you speak fluent Chinese. (But even then, a friendly face is worth way more than luxury frou frou.)

Anyway, the places we’ve been staying have been really solid! But there are different defaults than you might expect if you’re used to the US or Europe. (Or even India.)

Every guesthouse seems to have the following:
- a bathroom with a shower that is the whole room. (There are non-bathroom rooms and dorm beds too, but we’ve been pulling out all the stops.) No shower curtain or anything, just you take a shower and the whole room gets wet.
- plastic slippers so that once the floor is all wet, you can go back in the bathroom and keep your feet dry.
- an electric kettle and two mugs. I’d heard about the Chinese thing about only drinking hot/warm things, but they’re serious about it. This is quite handy, though, because you can boil a big thing of tap water and drink it later when it cools, and you don’t have to buy quite as many bottles of water.
- WiFi. You cannot escape wifi. This is lucky.

That is all! Everything else seems up for grabs. That said, most hotels/guesthouses seem to have:
- towels. The one guesthouse that didn’t have towels had instead a “disposable towel” for sale for ¥15. That was real lame.
- toothbrushes and tiny toothpaste. Isn’t that the one thing you would bring with you? Eh, maybe not :P
- some other toiletries. Usually a little packet of shampoo and bath foam (not “soap” or “body wash”, always “bath foam”), usually a frickin shower cap, sometimes a razor or whatever else they felt like throwing in.
- heat lamps in the bathroom. This is nice.
- electric blankets in the bed (but no heat in the room). These places must be brutal in winter.
- 2 twin beds in the average “double” room. So unromantic for a honeymoon.
- a TV. Some dumb things are universal.
- a way to do laundry. Usually you just give them your clothes and they wash them. How nice!

Sometimes guesthouses have:
- toilet paper. Sometimes you’re allowed to throw it in the toilet, sometimes you’re not. Sometimes they have a sign telling you “no TP in the toilet”, sometimes you just gotta know.

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