Monday, August 5, 2013

How Was It? - China in a Nutshell

One of the biggest issues I face after travelling is answering this question: "How was it?" I hate this question for the same reason I won't allow my students to use the words "good" or "interesting." It's so vague that I have nowhere to begin. All I have is a nebulous iota of comprehension. Luckily, in the three-quarters of a year I have until my inevitable return to the States, I will have the opportunity to avoid answering this question by keeping you well updated and trying my best to answer that horrendous question.

Disclaimer: this is my experience only. Other people may experience China differently.

China can be summed up in an acronym, TIC: This Is China. Did anyone see Blood Diamond? Leonardo DiCaprio has a very memorable line. Because the blood shed and time spent dodging criminals and in turn becoming criminals were so frequent, he says, "This is Africa." Well, this is China. Despite the proverbial iron fist and the supposed mountains of regulation, this place survives in anarchy. Here are some things we see on a fairly regular basis:

  • Kids using the bathroom on the street. At the zoo, a kid who was probably, like, 11 whipped it out and took a long-stream piss. Kids also take a dump on the street.
  • Littering within full view of a trashcan.
  • Cars on the sidewalks. Generally, they careen down the sidewalks without slowing down. Because why use your brakes when your horn will suffice?
  • What I have dubbed "the apron." Kids up to about the age 4 or 5 wear this. It's essentially an apron, but without any clothes under it and a whole for your junk to hang out of. 
  • Perpetually unflushed public restrooms.
  • People trying to sell rodent traps and pesticides on a travelling cart.
  • People trying to sell big buckets of seafood that have been festering all day in the sun and smog.
  • Mandatory nap time. Everyday between about 12:00 and 2:00 almost all the country just falls asleep. Wherever they are. It's bizarre.
I don't know what else to say except this place is really very weird. Jake keeps likening it to America in the '70s, but I don't really think that does it justice. The weirdest thing is that my students keep insisting Qinhuangdao is so clean and fresh compared to other cities - in fact, the words "crystal clear beaches" have come up frequently - and I feel like this is something they were taught in school to memorize and see for fear of, I don't know, being exiled.

In summation, China is a really unusual place.

1 comment:

  1. I want to see pictures of this Apron and these sleeping people. I'm sure I would giggle.