You Yong Chi - swimming pool
The summers can get really hot and humid in China especially in the south east and the best way to cool off is to be submerged in water. Yet swimming culture in China is fairly different compared to most other countries, here's what you need to know first.
How to find a pool
If it's an indoor stadium pool it'll be easier find on your own. But for a lot of outdoor pools you'll need some local help. Back home public pools have a lot of space for people to sunbath, but in China they is little space around them and tucked away in between buildings.
Swimming pool etiquette
If you're planning to do laps in swimming lanes, you might get frustrated with people who just like to splash around and bump into your lane. Usually guys with dragon tattoos chatting up girls in those Tinker Bell swimming outfits hanging around the sides of the pool. The solution is to swim in the inner lanes of the pool and keep an eye out for other swimmers.
A lot elderly swim
Good thing is that they're serious about swimming and not splashing around, but they swim a bit slow and you'll be overtaking them often.
Swimming caps and goggles maybe compulsory
Even if the pool may not enforce caps and goggles, and you don't normally wear them I would suggest doing so.
Changing rooms and showers
The changing rooms are a bit open, yet I never had the problem of locals staring while changing.
Membership fees
Some pools might require a yearly fee, this is usually a card with a stamp and not very expensive, but you still need to pay the swimming pass each time.
Indoor or outdoor pools
Prices for swimming passes will vary and of course indoor pools will be more and even double the price of an outdoor pool.
What to expect
In the above photo is a notice outside the indoor stadium pool stating that you'll we need some sort of health check. This is the official pool where competitions are held, it was used as the venue for the Asia games swimming events. However, outdoor pools don't require or enforced health checks, at least the ones I've swam at.
Useful vocabulary
Ru Chang Quan Swimming pass
You Yong Zheng Membership card
Jian Kang Zheng Health certificate
Shang Wu Chang Morning session
Xia Wu Chang Afternoon session
Where to buy swimming outfits
There are plenty of small stores that sell swimming suits near swimming pools, but I recommend going to a Decathlon store which will sell better quality. They're a sports outlet store located in most large cities. Their prices are relatively cheap and will have a better range.
Going to the beach
As an Australian, beaches in China are a bit of a let down, they're "too safe." China doesn't have a beach culture per se, students who come from coastal cities say they can't swim, even though they live a stone's throw away from a beach. The surf is just tiny little waves, and the swimming area is contained with ropes where if you try to go pass, a life guard yells at you.
I've seen a woman try to swim while holding an umbrella to protect herself from the sun. In Yantai, Shandong province, people swim at night and not during the day. Sunbathing in China is nonexistent and completely foreign to them.
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