A reality of life, doing what needs to be done by manpower - Beijing
City Life
Chinese cities are crowded, living quarters are small and tightly packed - apartment buildings in Wuhan
Traffic is congested and air quality is poor - outer fringe of downtown Wuhan
Food can be purchased from small market stalls - Wuhan
Or food can be purchased from upscale european style food markets
Prepared food is available from market stalls - Beijing
Or one can choose a sit-down restaurant
Manpower is cheaper than equipment, wherever we went paving blocks were being taken up and put down by hand.
Transporting goods is still done by hand in many cases - Wuhan
These man-powered two wheel pull carts are still common - Wuhan

Hand carts and three wheel bicycles are very much in evidence - Guangzhou
Surprisingly large loads are conveyed by pedal-power - Guangzhou
Here a bicycle is used not only to transport goods but also as a rolling fruit stand
Bicycles are used to haul most anything, including other bicycles
Tight living conditions in a Guangzhou residential area, although crowded it is remarkably clean and well kept.
Sanitation is not always what we expect by modern western standards, that's raw sewage running along the surface to the left of that water supply line. Wastewater treatment is virtually non-existent.and tap water is non-potable.
A Wuhan market stall

An experience not soon forgtten is the chinese squat toilet. Unless you are staying in a modern upscale hotel, eating in an upscale restaurant or shopping in a modern department store frequented by tourists, you will find squat toilets. The first encounter with these facilities will be severe culture shock for many werstern
visitors. In public restrooms, many of which charge admission, you will find the facilities to be anything from a literal hole in the ground, to a trough, to a porcelain basin flush with the floor. You will seldom find toilet paper and many of the facilities do not flush. The Chinese idea of privacy is not the same as that of westerners, many public restrooms have no, or only very low, partitions between each facility. Different culture, different practices.
A step up, this facility flushes, in a manner, you fill the bucket from the tap and pour it in to flush.
This facility is a trough that you squat over
A high-end squat toilet with western style partitions and doors, and they actually flush when the overhead cord is pulled, but there still is no toilet paper.
Chinese city dwellers love their parks. In Beijing we saw multitudes of people out in parks when the temperature was 36 degrees Fahrenheit, in Wuhan the parks were crowded with temperatures in the 50s, as were the parks in Guangzhou with temperatures in the low 70s. While you don't see people walking their dogs, like in the U.S., you do see them walking their birds. People bring their caged birds out in the parks while they play chess or mahjong, exercise or just sit and talk.
Playing traditional chinese instruments in Temple of Heaven Park, Beijing
Lu Park in Guangzhou
Bronze fishing boat and cormorants in Lu Park, Guangzhou
Feeding pigeons in a park in downtown Wuhan
We found the chinese to be friendly, helpful and out-going to visitors
Enjoying an outing in the park feeding her feathered friends
As in all large cities throughout the world there are those less fortunate who beg for a living. ThisĀ 
woman in Wuhan was doing chalk calligraphy on the sidewalk paving stones. We saw many children begging with their parents and on their own, some of the children were less than 5 years old, not something you see in travel brochures.
Another street scene you won't find on any guided tour or in any travel brochure

The hustle and bustle of every day city life away from areas frequented by tourists, you don't see any signs in english here.
Scorpions in a back street market
A vendor trimming tubers in Qingping Market in Guangzhou
A traffic signal that tells drivers how long until the signal changes from red to green or green to red. This one has 6 seconds to go on the red light.
The White Swan Hotel where we stayed in Guangzhou, this is not the China of the average chinese citizen.
Our hotel in the previous photo is a world away from this residential street in Guangzhou, this is the real China, scratch the gilded surface shown to visitors and you see the reality beneath.
Chinese Dumplings prepared in a small storefront restaurant
Crowded high-rise housing in Guangzhou
A resdiential Hutong alleyway in Beijing. As poor and crowded as much city housing appeared,
the resdiential areas were always clean and litter-free, unlike the lower income area in large cities in the U.S.