Day 129: Chinese Pet Peeves
Nothing much to report today. I had a look at a “famous” Taoist Temple in the city today, but didn’t think it was anything spesh. I’m off to my last destination, Luomen, this afternoon, and have time to kill until then so I’m chilling in this internet cafe with about a thousand chain-smoking Chinese guys playing shoot-em-up network games or in chat rooms. Aaaaah the wonders of the internet…
For “fun” I thought I’d list a few of the pet peeves that bug me about traveling in China:
- Spitting. Ubiquitous, filthy, everywhere, everyone. Yuk.
- Smoking. Every guy I’ve seen smokes like a chimney, but it’s the guys having a sneaky fag on the “no smoking” buses that really piss me off. And Chinese cigarettes reek.
- Pollution. Like unleaded petrol exhaust was the smell of Iran, in China it’s definitely coal. Whether I’m in the cities or in the countryside, it always stinks of coal. You see piles of it everywhere, and it’s burnt in everything from people’s inefficient home-made stoves to the thousands of huge brick kilns that dot the countryside. The result is a grey smoggy pall that hangs over most of China most of the year. I hate to think of the greenhouse gas emissions.
- Noise. Everywhere, 24/7. One-cylinder put-put-put tractors, honking car and truck horns, construction equipment, and everyone speaking at volume 10.
- Toilets. I’ve done a lot of traveling around the globe but China definitely takes the cake for having by far the worst toilet and bathroom standards anywhere in the world. It’s gross enough to even make me gag, and that’s saying something…
- Split Pants. Forget nappies, the Chinese just give young kids a pair of pants with no bum, so every kid’s arse is hanging out. Parents train their kids at an early age to shit on demand – no shit! With a “psssssss” sort of sound they can make the kid go wherever and whenever. And I mean wherever – on pavements, in gutters, in corridors of buildings, I even had a mother next to me today on the bus holding her baby over the bin in the aisle to go. Yuk-o.
- Lining Up. Or should I say lack of. They’re not big on queues for anything: ATMs, food, banks, tickets. Train tickets are the worst. It’s a real rugby scrum in there pushing for the window to secure a hard sleeper ticket on an overnight train, and even 10 years of playing rugby hasn’t trained me well for it. But a 30kg backpack on my back does have its uses in clearing a crowd…
- Rushing. I really don’t like – or understand – the go-go-go frenetic pace of Chinese life. Even on a train with reserved seating, or boarding a plane, it’s a real “gotta be first, can’t be left behind” rush.
- Overcharging. It’s got a lot better since I was here five years ago, but some people love to overcharge foreigners, and that really pisses me off. Taxi drivers regularly charge double or more and hotels always add a bit.
Alright so maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the Chinese. It’s definitely not all bad and the country does have its highlights. But to appreciate China’s highlights, you’ve gotta put up with a fair bit of crap. And that said, for a country this big, there’s a whole lotta nothing you need to get through for the few choice sights to see.
My two cents.