My EDC in China

My EDC in China- 在中國我的日常攜帶品

Over the years, I have become quite used to carrying a bag with me everywhere I go. Though the size of those bags have changed over time, lately, I have decided to carry a much smaller bag. Perhaps the size of a liter or half a gallon. The items I carry look quite different here in China than what I carry while back home in the USA. In fact, many of these items I would not carry on me, but I would leave in my car to have access to them if needed. Unfortunately, I have yet to get my Chinese driver’s license. My international driver’s license doesn’t qualify me to drive in Mainland China, only Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau. Unlike other EDC blog posts or videos you’ll find on YouTube, I want to give a little insight as to why I carry some of these items with me as my EDC. Some of these items might seem strange to westerners who haven’t been to China otherwise.

Before we get started, I just want to remind everyone that their EDC items might be completely different. Please share some of your EDC items in the comment section below. These are just some ideas to help you navigate your stay/ residency in Mainland China. Alright, lets get started.

UniQlo Mini Messenger Bag 優衣庫包

I have decided to go smaller and lighter with my EDC bag because I do a lot of walking on a daily basis. Carrying around a large heavy bag can become tiresome or cumbersome after a long day. On average, I walk around 10,000-20,000 steps daily. I decided to go with this smaller bag from UniQlo that probably is about the size of a liter. As I get older, I am less interested in flashy brands and labels plastered all over myself, I like this minimalistic style bag. I think it also attracts less attention, which is a good deterrent from the occasional pickpocket. This particular bag I can swing around to the front with ease when on public transport to better keep an eye on my belongings. Pickpocketing is becoming less of an issue here in China (in my personal experience), but as living in any major city, I think it’s good to be mindful of these things.

Key Bag, Wallet, Passport, Handkerchief, 2 Fountain Pens (black, blue), a Mechanical Pencil, a 1200ma Battery Pack, Swiss Army Knife, Red Packet, the Gospel of John in Chinese.

Most of these items are self explanatory, but I do want to make a public service announcement. While living in Guangzhou, I went to a seminar conducted by the Guangzhou police concerning expats. We were told by the local authorities that as foreigners living in China, we are required to carry several documents on us at all times living in GZ. We should carry our passport at ALL times (I know some foreigners who carry a photo or printed copy, these types of ID may or may not work depending on the officer you may encounter). Two other documents that you should carry with you at all times are your foreign expert certificate/ 外国人工作许可证/Wàiguó rén gōngzuò xǔkě zhèng (if applicable) and your temporary residence registration/ 境外人员临时住宿登记表/ Jìngwài rényuán línshí zhùsù dēngjì biǎo. We were told at least in Guangzhou (2019), that if you do not carry these documents with you at all times, if you were to be stopped by an officer, you could face a 20,000RMB fine. Now that I am living in Dalian, apparently I do not need to carry my foreign expert certificate, but it is the law in China to carry your passport and temporary residence registration with you at all times. If you are not sure how to obtain these documents, please speak with the HR department at your school/ company to ask them or you can go yourself to the nearest police station to obtain the temporary residence registration. My recommendation would be to ask the local police what additional documents you might need to carry with you as my personal experience is that many schools or companies in China might not know or be up to date with the law (as it often changes) or they do not want to give you these documents because they do not want to be hassled with this responsibility.


Another quick note, I often carry a handkerchief with me around China because most bathrooms do not carry paper towels. Those that do might even make you scan a QR code to trade your personal information for a paper towel or even TP. That being said, I have also seen plenty of studies that have shown that TP or paper towels in public restrooms are the dirtiest objects in the restroom, even more than the toilet seats.

My wallet and key bag I keep in my two front pockets. It is more difficult for a pickpocket to get items out of your front pockets than back pockets. Especially when you can put your hands in your pockets on a crowded subway train.

Wallet, Passport, Traveler’s Notebook, Writing Utensils, Swiss Army Knife, Cetirizine (allergy meds), Portable Charger, Tide to Go Pen, Gospel of John, Tylenol, Seirogan, PM 2.5 Mask, Toilet Paper

As previously stated, most public restrooms usually do not carry toilet paper or paper towels in China. If they do, you might need to pay for them, trade personal information via WeChat to get some. If your lucky, there might be one TP dispenser located outside of the stalls in the bathroom (usually by the entrance/ exit, sinks or trash cans) and you will need to grab some before heading to the stalls. So I always carry with me some TP just for this reason. One time when I first began traveling to China, I was in Dandong China. I remember going to a public restroom with a man standing outside the restroom selling TP. He asked me if I wanted to buy some and I thought, “why, there will be some TP inside the stall”. Well after using the bathroom, I realized that there was no TP in the stall. I called out to the man and asked if I could buy some TP and he raised the price! He went from 1.5 RMB for TP to 3 RMB for some TP. He laughed and said that next time I should listen, I learned my lesson and have never again been caught without TP in Mainland China.

One thing that I often took for granted in the USA was the fact that I could buy allergy medicine or Tylenol almost anywhere. Whether your at a gas station, Walmart, grocery store, it was common and easy to get these if needed. As stated before, I would keep some in my car at all times in the US. Here in China it is a different story, these types of drugs can only be carried by licensed pharmacies. You will not find them in grocery stores or convenience stores like 7eleven, Family Mart or Lawson. I cannot tell you how many times I went to a different city for travel or work while in China and was caught with a terrible migraine, upset stomach or allergy attack and just had to deal with it. Pharmacies in China (especially in smaller districts or cities) will close fairly early and now because of the pandemic, a lot of them will not even sell you Tylenol without an ID because the customer might be using it to lower a fever, which could be related to Covid. There were several times where the only pharmacy close to me were in a local hospital and I would have to get a doctors prescription just to buy some Ibuprofen. Obviously pharmacies outside a hospital wouldn’t need a prescription. So I always carry some traditional Japanese medicine good for food poisoning or upset stomachs (Seirogan), Tylenol or the only allergy medication that seemingly works for me (Cetirizine). I have yet to find Cetirizine in China, so I would often have to go to Hong Kong to purchase it. But if you are alright with a different brand, Claritin is also available in most pharmacies in China.

Air pollution is quite a problem in most of China. Before I started taking air pollution serious, every time I traveled to China back in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, I would get some kind of upper respiratory infection. While there are times were wearing a mask is not necessary, there are times were especially in Guangzhou, the air quality can deteriorate. During the winter this is especially true when more people are burning coal or using gas to heat their homes and there is less rain to help clean the air. I would highly recommend carrying an extra PM 2.5 mask with you in case you drop yours or the air quality changes when you are outside. Since I have taken a lot of these precautions, I can count how many times I’ve gotten upper respiratory infections in China during the last 5 years.

ESV New Testament, alcohol wipes, Fitbit tracker, Hand Sanitizer, Lightning Cable, Earplugs, Earphones, Medical Mask, Solid Cologne, Fisherman’s Friends, Toilet Seat Sanitizing Wipes, and an ICE Card.

While I do not use these often, there are times were I am grateful to have them. If I am in the office/ library and trying to focus or more riding on the metro, having these earplugs are a life saver. Those people living in Guangzhou know just how noisy the train cars can be at times, especially line 7! Some of the lines are not as noise proof as they should be and especially the newer lines are not built to the same standards as maybe line 1 originally was built.

On the days were the air pollution is high and wearing a mask while teaching seems to not be working, I like to carry around some Fisherman’s Friends to help ease my throat. My good friend Steve got me using these. Lately, I have been enjoying the lemon or blackcurrant flavor.

While this might seem like overkill, PM 2.5 masks are great for fighting air pollution, but not for fighting against viruses. During the flu season at school with my students or protecting against COVID-19, I like to use these imported medical masks that are BFE, VRE and PFE rated from Japan. Supposedly, they also help with PM 2.5, but they don’t offer as tight a fit as most PM 2.5 masks I have worn in the past, therefore I am a little skeptical of how effective they might be in regard to pollution.

Lastly, I want to mention is having an ICE card. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. I think this is good to have on someone where ever they might be, but especially when you are traveling. I have even seen some people take pictures of this information and leave it as their lock screen wallpaper on their phone. That being said, while this system might be expected for first aid responders to check for in the West, I do not think it is as common in China. Therefore, I have one side in English and the opposite side I have translated into Chinese. That way, whoever happens to find it in case something happens to me in China can understand it or if I am traveling abroad, I can use the English side. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original file I created with the help of geticecard.com, but I am including a PDF copy where you can print out and write in your information.

Important Vocabulary Words 重要词汇

  • Bag 包 Bāo
  • Key Bag 钥匙袋 yàoshi dài
  • Wallet 钱包 qiánbāo
  • Passport 护照 hùzhào
  • Handkerchief 手帕 shǒupà
  • 2 Fountain Pens 钢笔(black, blue) gāngbǐ
  • a Mechanical Pencil 自动铅笔 zìdòng qiānbǐ
  • a 1200ma Battery Pack 充电宝 chōngdiàn bǎo
  • Swiss Army Knife 瑞士军士刀 ruìshì jūnshì dāo
  • Traveler’s Notebook 旅行笔记本 lǚxíng bǐjìběn
  • Cetirizine/ Claritin 佳力天过敏药 jiā lì tiān guòmǐn yào
  • Tide to Go Pen 汰渍便携快速去污笔 tài zì biànxié kuàisù qù wū bǐ
  • Tylenol 必理痛 bìlǐtòng
  • Seirogan 正露丸 zhènglùwán
  • PM 2.5 Mask- PM2.5口罩 PM2.5 kǒuzhào
  • Toilet Paper 厕纸 cèzhǐ
  • ESV New Testament 圣经新约 shèngjīng xīnyuē
  • alcohol wipes 酒精卫生湿巾 jiǔjīng wèishēng shī jīn
  • Fitbit tracker 计步器  jìbùqì
  • Hand Sanitizer 免洗洗手液 miǎn xǐ xǐshǒu yè
  • Lightning Cable 手机电线 shǒujī diànxiàn
  • Earplugs 耳塞 ěrsāi
  • Earphones 耳机 ěrjī
  • Medical Mask 医用口罩 yīyòng kǒuzhào
  • Solid Cologne 固体古龙香水 gùtǐ gǔlóng xiāngshuǐ
  • Fisherman’s Friends 渔夫之宝 yúfū zhī bǎo
  • Toilet Seat Sanitizing 便圈清洁纸 biàn quān qīngjié zhǐ 
  • In Case of Emergency Card (ICE Card) 紧急联系卡 jǐnjí liánxì kǎ.

Are there some items that you carry around with you as your EDC that I did not include but you think would be equally important? Please comment below and share! I would love to hear your EDC or recommendations.

~ by branhow on February 18, 2021.

One Response to “My EDC in China”

  1. Thank you for the insight on travel in China. I hope to go someday and visit its rich history

    Liked by 1 person

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