21 Things I Noticed about ChinaPosted: August 4, 2013
In short, China was fantastic. I’d never thought too hard about going there, but now I’m so glad I went. It’s so modern and dynamic, and also amazingly weird. Hence, this list.
Before this two-week trip the only part of China I’d been to was Hong Kong, which is a different breed altogether. So let me preface this by saying that these are my first impressions. Experiences may differ…
•The ‘Shanghai Bikini’: is when men, especially the 40+ set, roll their shirts up and display their round bellies, keeping themselves cool.
•Spitting: is loud and incredibly obvious. Done by men and women.
•Pastel-coloured clothes: are a big thing in fashion magazines, along with little-girl dresses. On the street, to be fair, things are a lit more relaxed.
•Birkenstocks: are in.
•Ears: i.e. clip on rabbit/cat ears for grown women, were very popular in Beijing.
•Hair Pastels: like, drawing pencils, are sold as hair-colouring chalk.
•Whitening: for your face, duh, is very popular. I’ve tried to avoid face creams that contain hydrogen peroxide, thank you.
•Wifi: is in every cafe, every airport, lots of malls and many public squares.
•Paul frank: is still a thing.
•Trains: are, thank God, all air-conditioned. Also, I paid 50 dollars for a 16-hour train ride. And the Z-train from Chengdu to Shanghai was quite nice; the waiting area wasn’t crowded, the bedding was plush, there were outlets in every compartment and each little bunk had its own tv.
•English: is actually pretty widely spoken, especially compared to Russia. And people are sweet and nervous about their English. Bless.
•Being a foreigner: is very comfortable. Unlike, erm, Uzbekistan, you won’t get anything lecherous. Rickshaw drivers will just yell ‘hello’. Hello to you, friend!
•Beer: is incredibly weak. A regular Tsingtao contains less alcohol than a Bud light. That photo above? I think we (a group of six, mind) were on bottle 43.
•Bargaining: again, those beers? Listed as 25 each, one of our party bargained them down to 7.
•Advertising: is bizarre. I saw giant ads for kiwis (below), and something called ‘hypnotise’.
•Train food: for the Russians would include boiled eggs, bread rolls, tomatoes. In China it’s boxed noodles and weird, Ovaltine-esque beverages.
•Talking: never stops. See: the three people I shared a train cabin with for twenty hours.
•Men: fortunately/unfortunately are never going to give their seat up for you on the subway. One time this 20-year-old girl did, though.
•Bikes: come at you from all directions. There is no logic.
•Children: seem to have a lot of tantrums. I saw at least half a dozen children screaming on the street.
•English names: are nuts. Of the six teenage girls I met, there was a ‘Bilbo’, ‘Frankenstein’ and a ‘Potato’. Alrightey!