What surprised me most about the trip to China?
Candor about controversial topics. I had been told and read in various resources that the people I met in China would not talk about certain topics, and I should not ask. So, I didn't.
It's not an exaggeration to say that I was shocked when I heard some speak openly and negatively about specific government policies, about limitations on freedoms, and about the Cultural Revolution.
No one said anything negative about Mao, but no one said anything at all about Mao. I never saw a prominent portrait of him anywhere. That omission seemed like a criticism to me.