The China Logs: Things I Have Noticed About China Part 1

Chinese Hygiene
Chinese people are beautifully turned out, and very well presented, the vast majority of them. The hotels foyers are lovely. The malls are highly polished. There is precious little litter on the streets, and armies of street cleaners are in evidence everywhere you look. So how come they still hawk and spit wherever they please? Even indoors on carpets and where people are sitting or eating? In addition, how come you can walk through the poshest of hotels or restaurants, to find the stench of the toilet meeting you way before you see the sign? Why does the stench not get any better even when there is an attendance there whose job it is to clean the place? WHY???

Being Sick In China
The Chinese (Mandarin) for Aspirin is ASR-PEELING. I love it! How come despite a blocked nose impervious to all known medication, once you approach above Chinese toilet to use the facilities, one’s nose miraculously unblocks perfectly for the precise time it takes you to use the facilities, so one can appreciate the atrocious smell better, and then blocks right back up once you have walked out?

Chinese Hairdressers
We noticed this more in Beijing, and Datong, but not so much further south. Nice hairdressers all set up to do business in the day, with women getting blow dries and people with curlers in and all that… then the sun goes down and the lights are dimmed. Sometimes even the light bulb is changed to a red or pink one. The hairdressers’ clothing gets slinkier and sexier, and there seems to be very little hairdressing going on at all. Indeed, most of the clients are now men. Hmmm.

Chinese Pregnant Women
Pregnancy is a big thing over here, given that you are only supposed to have one child (unless you are a farmer and your first born is a daughter – you can try for a son then). Pregnant women’s clothing is all cutesy and cuddly, dominated by the dungaree look (criminal in most other countries) and almost everything is appliquéd with teddy bear, balloons, storks, you get the picture. Fashion Police – quick!!

The One Child Policy
There are huge billboards everywhere advertising (or encouraging) China’s one-child policy. Most of the pictures I have seen show a young good-looking couple with their beautiful daughter playing in a park or by a river. I guess this is to also encourage people not to discard their child if it is female, which happens with alarming regularity over here (death by neglect or the orphanage being the two main routes).

Chinese Traffic
Traffic lights are everywhere. Most of them have little green and red men for pedestrians too. Generally the little green man flashes like he is walking. In Xi’an some of them are animated so that he sprints alarmingly when time is running out, encouraging you to do the same. Traffic lights are purely decorative anyway. A red light for traffic doesn’t apply if you are (a) a bicycle, (b) a motorbike or other motorised two-wheeler, (c) a truck or bus, (d) turning right (they drive on the right here), (e) turning left. I may have missed a few out. Generally, traffic lights are a suggestion only, and should not be taken too seriously. Orlando has taken (quite chivalrously I would say) to always standing on whichever side of me faces the oncoming traffic, so as to defend me against the onslaught.

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