I just got back from China 4 days ago.
It's my 3rd time in China. The first time I was there, it was 16 years ago. My parents brought the whole family to China with a tour for a week and we went to Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu. 2nd time was 4 years ago again we followed a tour for a week and went around Jiangnan covering Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Nanjing. This time I was in China for 1 month. Stayed in Beijing for 2 weeks+, 1 night in Tianjin, 3 nights in Xi'An and 1 night in Zheng Zhou.
I've heard quite alot from travelers about China. People either love it or hate it.
For me its a love-hate relationship towards it.
1. Everyone from young to old spits anytime anywhere.
2. They smoke even in indoor area, worst is that some places even put up the no smoking sign but still people ignore it.
3. Some people just never learn to queue up. I actually told off 2 person who tried to cut my queue during this trip.
4. They like to throw rubbish on the floor -__- creating more work to be done by the roadside cleaners
5. Some of the older people still do not like to close the toilet door while enjoying their business ;(
6. You got to buy a ticket in order to visit the tourist destination. Almost none of the places is free and ticket price aren't cheap. The most expensive entrance ticket I've paid for was to visit the Terra-cota warriors in Xi'An, China which cost me 150RMB.
7. Shopping is not VERY cheap though 90% of the products in our daily lives are made in China and if you tried bargaining with the seller and not buying afterwards they will show you the one of a kind face.
However on the good point is that I've seen a very drastic improvement on the city especially Beijing after 16 years!
It fairly easy to travel around in China IF you can read chinese. Since chinese is my mother tongue, I had no problem at all traveling around and asking for directions. However, there might be some hassle for the westerners because the public bus routes are written in chinese ONLY.
Public transportation is very cheap in China. For example, it only cost us 1-2 RMB to take the public bus around and 2RMB for the subway no matter how many stations you are going. *unbelievable cheap
If you're too lazy to take the public transport, taxi is also a great way to go around. In Beijing the starting rate of a cab is 10RMB, 8RMB in Tianjin and other smaller provinces and 14RMB in Shanghai.
Bullet train will cost you more though but you get to travel with comfort since the seats are quite spacious and food is available on board.
The food they have in China is delicious and price is reasonable. I wasn't backpacking this time and I'm traveling with my parents so most of the time I had my meals at restaurant. A meal for 5 person will cost around RMB200. My favorite dish is the dumplings and also the Daoxiaomian (a kind of noodles) *To my surprise, Korean food is much cheaper in Beijing as compared to the price paid for in Malaysia.
Toilets are much cleaner that I expected but most of them do not comes with toilet paper so its important to always bring along your own toilet paper.
Overall I think that China has been quite an eye opener and it exceeds my expectation.