The Good and Bad of China

Patience.

Patience is all that you need to survive in China for more than an hour.

I am surprised at how drastic the difference is between mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese. I was hoping that my 2-month long travel here would be plain sailing but unfortunately life has been pretty miserable for me. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying that the people here lead a defective lifestyle; I am just unable to adapt to the difference in the way of living.

common chinese behaviors

The list below serves as a reminder to prepare those who will be traveling here:

The Dark Side of China

  • The Art of Spitting 
Men and older women here spit a lot. They also enjoy doing what I dubbed the "flying mucus", in which they press one finger against one side of the nose and do a rather intense nasal blasting, resulting in a startling mucus dart. If you have difficulty visualizing this, I'd be more than glad to send you a video.

what to expect in china
Warning: Spitting is common on beaches and IN THE SEA too.

  • Inevitable Washroom Horrors
The toilets here are literally holes in the ground. Forget about flushing - you'll find a basket for you to discard your used tissues if you are lucky.

chinese public toilets
Some of the washrooms at main tourist attractions may look like this

  • Deafening Conversations
I was in a three-hour bus ride yesterday when a woman and a man in their forties behind me who were sitting right next to each other decided to speak as loudly as they could and their conversation lasted throughout the entire ride. Did I mention that they were sitting right behind me?

This is very common in coffee shops, restaurants and many other places. No, they are not quarreling. They are merely speaking in a volume they have long been accustomed to.

  • Now You See Me, Now You Don't
Cutting queues is very common. Queues here are already very long (duh, you are waiting alongside a fraction of 1.357 billion people), but they don't seem to get any shorter in time. Now you know why.

  • Zero Personal Space
...And as if waiting in a queue for hours isn't distressing enough, you also get people sticking their bodies right next to yours the entire time. I am assuming this is to prevent others from cutting queues, but the experience is exceedingly intolerable. The same situation can take place in restaurants too when you need to share a table.

  • Unpredictable Walking Pace
They could be bolting down the street. Or they could be walking at the rate of one meter per minute. Science has yet to solve this puzzling phenomenon, so quit guessing and try not to run into anyone.

  • Umbrella Community
I can bet my life that every.single.one here owns an umbrella. Some probably have three - one fixed onto their motorbike/bicycle, one in their bags, and a spare one at home. Rain or shine, dry or wet, the Chinese have become overly dependent on the use of umbrellas. (I have seen some shielding themselves with two umbrellas at the same time)


China: The Bright Side

The Chinese have many positive aspects that are worth mentioning too, and the followings are what make up my extremely pleasant travel experience in the country:

common chinese stereotypes
 
  • Zero Harassment
There isn't a need to worry about being harassed here. You might find people shouting "美女! 美女!" (pretty girl) at you but that is only to get your attention so you would buy something from them.

  • Commendable Helpfulness
Another surprising trait of the Chinese people is their helpfulness. While this may not apply to everyone, I am lucky enough to have met a few people who had offered their help voluntarily, e.g. carrying my bags, patting me on the back to let me know that my bag is unzipped etc.

  • Excellent Punctuality
Malaysian Chinese is nowhere near the mainlanders when it comes to punctuality. Whether it is public transport or showing up for an appointment, experience tells me that they always arrive on the dot!


***
China is great and it is a bliss being here. The scenery is fantastic, the food is awesome, and the cultures and traditions are exceptional. I honestly just wish for more flush toilets and less stained tissue papers in the waste bins.

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