Ayi and Cleaning in China

In today’s post I’m going to talk about cleaning in China and about someone that most expats living in China know very well : Ayi. Ayi is not her name, it’s her title, meaning  Auntie in Mandarin and commonly referring to the maid. Because 90% of expats in China have a maid, for the very simple reason that they actually can afford this luxury for once. When I first arrived to Shanghai, I didn’t want a maid as I was thinking I could do it myself as I have always done. After a while though, you realize how cheap and convenient it is, and how stupid you were not to do it earlier.

I had been planning to have an Ayi for some time now because 70 square meters is a bit much to maintain by myself. Basically, the agency which I rented my apartment from was supposed to introduce me an Ayi, but they didn’t seem to care about it so I decided to find a cleaner by myself.

My Chinese girlfriend asked her colleagues and we got a phone call from a serious agency that provides Ayis with recommendations and a Shanghai ID card (it’s better for security reasons).

My Ayi is a 50-year-old woman (my girlfriend did the casting…) but she is still quite dynamic and very efficient. I pay her 20 RMB per hour (5 times cheaper than in London) and she comes 2 hours twice a week. I explained to her what I expected from her and she got to work quickly.

The downside is that you have to be there. Well, you don’t have to but it’s better to be around to make sure everything is done well because we don’t necessarily have the same conception of cleaning and what clean means.

The advantage is that she does everything : floor cleaning, windows, ironing, putting clothes in the dryer, changing sheets/duvet, and even crockery (but I prefer to do it myself because I’m a bit maniac about it! ). By the way, when she changed my quilt, she noticed that a seam was dropping and pulled a sewing kit out of her bag. What more could you ask for?

Chinese cleaning VS European cleaning

First, let’s talk about the cleaning tools used in China. When I first came to Shanghai, I went to a supermarket to get a broom, which looked something like this :

Yes, this is a normal-sized broom in China, not a toy for kids. It’s fully made out of plastic, easily breakable and mostly made for people under 1,2o meter.

After sweeping the floor, you logically want to mop it. If steam cleaners have been increasingly popular in Europe these days, China seems to prefer the good old way and stick with the mop. But not any kind of mop, not those fancy mops that you don’t even need to take in your hands. Chinese prefer this kind :

I never really understood how this became an accepted way of mopping. First, you have to take the whole stick and mop to the sink when you want to wash it which is super inconvenient. Second, the material the strips are made out of and the way they are put together is just perfect to retain the dirt in the mop. Proper disgusting.


Sources :


Introducing “The Northern Capital” Beijing

In today’s post, I will introduce Beijing, China’s capital and a city with one of the richest history in world. I have traveled five or six time in Beijing and I think it is the most interesting city in China, due to its heritage.

A museum in Beijing


Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and is the second most populous city in China, behind Shanghai. It is the country’s political, cultural, and educational centre. It is the last of the four great ancient capitals of China – Nanjing, Luoyang, and Chang’an (Xi’an) – and has been the political centre of the country for most of the last 800 years.

Location and Climate

The furthest north of China’s big cities, Beijing is surrounded by mountains which protect it from the encroaching desert steppes. The Great Wall of China also runs through the north of Beijing municipality which was built to prevent invasions from the north. In terms of latitude, Beijing is level with Turkey and Greece as well as Central American states. Beijing has a fairly dry, monsoon-influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa), characterized by hot, humid summers because of the East Asian monsoon, and generally dry, windy,  cold, winters that reflect the effect of the huge Siberian anticyclone. Spring and autumn are usually short, but dry and hot.


Beijing’s Capital Int’l Airport is the second busiest airport in the world, with almost 90,000,000 passengers a year; it is only behind the Hartsfield-Jackson International Atlanta airport. It was recently renovated for the 2008 Olympics, with the newly built third terminal being one of the biggest terminals in the world. A second international airport, named Beijing Daxing International Airport, is currently under consturction in Daxing District, and is expected to be ready by 2017. From Beijing you can connect to any Chinese city with regular air passenger service. It takes just about two hours to fly to Shanghai, and just under three to Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Internationally, it takes 10 and a half hours to London, 14 hours to New York and 11 and a half hours to Sydney.

Things You Should Do and Should not Do in China

Chinese business card etiquette


Being a tourist can be amazing when you have understood about the custom of the country you have visited. There are many Asian countries you can visit and learn the culture. One of the oldest and most unique countries in Asia is China. Their culture is just amazing, and you should face it when you have come to China. You have to know the culture, language a little bit and tour guide if you don’t have any skill in speaking Chinese. The language barrier is something common, but when it has come to custom, you should understand first. Here are things you should not do and should do when you are in China.


  • When you have met an older people, you have to greet them first because the oldest person should be greeted first as a symbol of high respect to the Chinese culture.
  • Tap twice the table when you are drinking a toast.
  • It is necessary to do a handshake because it has been a common thing in non-verbal greeting in China.
  • When you are wrapping gifts in China, use red packages or wrappers and avoid using white or black because it is a symbol of death.
  • Keep calm whenever something weird happens in front of your face.


  • Business cards are a very big deal in China. When someone is giving you his business card with both hands, you must take it using both hands in return.
  • Never spit into the bowl, and when you are going to spit using tissue, you should place it at plate and not your food bowl.
  • If you are offered a toast, you must drink with the person who is inviting you as a mark of respect
  • Never stick your chopsticks in your bowl of rice as it is highly associated with death and funeral.
  • Never open the gifts in front of the giver when you are receiving gift and wait until they take their leave.
  • When you come to Silk Road, you should not bring any non-halal foods to keep it respect.
  • If you meet old people, you have to ask permission first when you want to photograph them.


As you can see, the Chinese have their own beliefs and I highly recommend to get informed of what is considered respectful and disrespectful in China before traveling there, this may avoid you big misunderstanding and even trouble !

Have you ever experienced cultural differences that surprised you in China? If you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment!