Saturday, August 12, 2006

Truths about China

China is the center of the World and is always right
Maybe it is a requirement to be a Super Power (in waiting!). China's education system is geared to tell people about China. I ask what students learned about the rest of the World at school... and officially they don't learn much -although there seem to be a number of individual professors who realise the education system's curriculum is antiquated and teach people about others stuff, e.g. Tiananmen Square

Chinese babies' clothes are 'special'
Since China is still a land of squat toilets (cleaner than putting your bum somewhere somewhere else has) and will most likely remain so, since Chinese people don't mind them and don't seem to see it as a mark of civilsation (though us Westerners do), then to make life easier for babies, all their trousers (and they don't wear underwear) have slits in them, so to go to the toilet you just hold open the slit. Quite amusing for foreigners to see, but you get used to it. Would shoot my mum if i was ever given anything like that when i was 3. Actually Xi'an seems to have gone 1 step further and taken away the trousers altogether. More than 1/3rd of all the children i see are only wearing a top, and I've seen at least 3 walking around just wearing sandles!

China never has enough seats on a train
Actually, I lie, it does sometimes have enough expensive soft seats. And it NEVER has any normal beds available (though for the 4 routes in the country with soft beds that cost almost the same as flying do have availability if you really have to leave and don't care about cost). Thus of the 4 classes you have soft seats and soft beds, which are both expensive and rare -but do have space, sometimes. There is little difference (apart from price) between them and normal seats and beds (known as hard). The difference of course is that hard beds for overnight journeys are ALWAYS sold out before they even go on sale, and the hard seats are sold out within 5 minutes of going on sale (if you are lucky). Planning a ourney is tough. You need to buy tickets 4 days in advance and you won't get a choice in which of those 4 options will be available. If you are lucky there will be some standing tickets available (for the same price as a seat though!). China's train capacity is still ridiculously low (for freight too). A rumour is that its intentional by the government to stop too MUCH migration (or travelling to Beijing to protest to the government), just like the ridiculously high flight prices (no competition, regulated market etc -though the service is getting quite good if you ignore that the planes cannot take off or land with a hint of pollution, sand or rain -the first 2 being a problem in many cities in the north, and the last being a problem for many in the south)

They are the nicest people
But they seem the meanest. Once you talk to someone and make some (any) kind of contact then people are wonderful, but until you make any contact, they are just plain mean. Shoving and pushing in lines (for an english gentleman like me this is a capital offence!) and doing all kinds of things that foreigners would say is offensive eg. spitting, staring, ignoring, refusing to serve you etc. I've realised most of this stuff is just the Chinese/Asian/Developing/Foreign country norm -and hence apart from the pushing and shoving, all the evidence is that Chinese people are lovely. Stories abound of being invited into random people's houses for dinner, being bought gifts and all sorts of fantastic generosity -especially from the elders (though they have been through all sorts of hell in their lifetime!)

Its big, its beautiful, its advanced, its orderly
No explanation needed. Though one of my favourite quotes goes something like "The mountains are high and the emperor is far away". For anyone wanting to understand China.. this is the phrase to think about!

It's complicated
To explain the economics, geography, history, languages, minorities, culture, religious influences..... is simply impossible!


At 1:00 pm, Blogger Flic said...

Nice post Adam, & glad you're enjoying Xi'an! Keep having fun...


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