Due to its size, China has several different climatic zones,
ranging from cold-temperate to tropical, in which rainfall and
temperature vary significantly. Broadly speaking, the majority of
China's provinces experience cold, dry winters and warm (sometimes
hot) wet summers.
Food plays a fundamental role in Chinese culture. The addition
of new recipes by successive dynasties throughout China's long
history plus the emergence of cuisines unique to different regions
has resulted in an almost limitless variety of dishes. Rice,
noodles, dumplings or buns are the main constituent of a Chinese
meal, whilst vegetables, meat or fish are considered
'accompaniments'. Chinese food is prepared in bite-sized pieces to
be comfortably eaten with chopsticks. Popular Chinese dishes
include Chow Mein; noodles stir fried with soy sauce and shredded
beef, chicken or pork, seafood or egg; Wonton; a pastry wrapper
filled with minced pork, fresh vegetables and seasonings, and
cooked and served in a chicken soup and Kung Pao chicken; a spicy,
stir-fried dish of chicken, vegetables, peanuts and chillies
originating in the Sichuan province.
Western guests crossing China by train are often confused by the
Chinese tipping culture. In the West tipping is a sign of gratitude
but in China it is seen as charity. In almost all areas of China
tipping is considered impolite and may cause offence. It is not
uncommon for restaurants to enforce a no-tipping policy.
Historically, the use of knives and forks for dining was
considered barbaric since in Chinese culture these items are
considered as weapons, hence the use of chopsticks.
There has been much large scale development in China and rail
travel is in the vanguard of this recent surge. China even operates
the highest altitude rail service in the world with pressurised
cabins to compensate for the lack of oxygen.