A couple of things that I did notice. Pretty minor, but definitely noticeable. People seem to care much less about niceties in "public" areas. It's not like subways, etc. were dirty -- they weren't. But, for instance, when it comes to apartment buildings, the external facings were purely utilitarian, and the stairwells were concrete/cinder block with pipe handrails. Almost industrial. But then you actually go into someone's apartment, and it's gorgeously kept. Gleaming hardwood floors, tile walls, artwork, etc.
Even more minor... people tend to drink their water hot. I had an interesting episode in a restaurant in Shanghai, where I asked for water to drink. In the U.S., it's assumed that means ice water. In China, it means hot water. Not room-temperature, but *hot* - like you'd think of hot tea, or coffee. I asked if I could have some ice in it, and the server gave me a weird look and took my glass away. She soon returned with my glass of water... with a *single* ice cube floating in it, which of course melted almost immediately. My Chinese friend (who was with us) explained to her what I wanted, and she got me a glass of ice water... but apparently (my friend explained later), she (the server) was worried that it would be too cold for me and that I wouldn't like it. Just a little anecdote I found fun. Sometimes it's the little things.