China, is so damn wonderful. I really think so – but you won’t get the enjoyment of me just telling you how wondrous it is. I’ll have to tell you the bad things, that to me, make it even more wonderful.
Now picture this:
A pristine, marble palace of a bathroom. You walk in and a little sting enters your nostrils. Not really a problem, as you know they’re probably about to clean and return this toiletry palace back to its glorious state.
Now you just have to pee, stepping to a urinal with one on either side (appropriate male etiquette) and begin your duties. As you do you look around at all the glistening floors and surfaces and think to yourself “Maybe they have been cleaning, everything is so wet”… Your eyes then come to a sign about face height above the porcelain. You take in some of the Chinese characters and the cutesy little man waggling his finger… The you catch the English translation. Which is most likely, requires a little riddle solving, as the translators aren’t so hip with the 2010s era lingo… But it boils down to this: Try taking a step closer and not peeing all over everything you unsanitary freak!
Suddenly – this glistening surrounding you and that stinging smell in your nose all makes sense… As you finish and holster your manhood, in runs a son and father (this truly happened) and the shy child runs to the western loo in the stall and the father to the urinal you just evacuated
They both proceed to pee, the child not bothering to lift the seat and just going on top. Father, seeing this – he doesn’t stop. He just casually backs up wetting everything in his slow path backwards to tell of his son. The floor, the toilet and everything under God is now drenched.
This is China, welcome. It is a wonderful place, but man it does have some rather unpalatable habits.
So it’s been 8 months, 8 long long and confusing months.
8 months of living in China. This place is truly amazing. The culture, the history and the language. The people are also something else… for better or for worse all of these things are way different to how I grew up in rural America and then metropolitan London. All these wonderful and (often) awful mind-blowing experiences are all part of the charm. Culturally, they’re not doing anything wrong. Culture is a unique and unspoken understanding of how words and actions relate and are understood, it’s as easy as drinking water when you’re in it. When you experience a new one, especially one so different – it’s like a whiskey.
Thematic alert – what makes China awful to an outsider is exactly to me, what makes it so brilliant. Most of these blogs upcoming will be about China and my own experience and maybe commentary on life here.
At times, it will seem like I hate China, when I am asked what it is like I say “Disgusting, disorganised and the people are rude”…that’s all true – but that’s why I love it. Like I said before – my cultural upbringing makes China taste like a strong fiery whiskey. I’m not judging, I can’t express enough how much I love it. Even when I’m hating the man hawking up a huge phlegm lump and just spitting it casually on the floor in the bus.
And I’m really appreciative of my experiences, adventurous or mis-adventurous. I’ve made some damn wonderful Chinese friends and had beautiful experiences. Without my experiences so far, it wouldn’t have shaped me so strongly. I’m happy because even though I may have hard day culturally, personally or even physically… I’m really living in a place where I am challenged daily, I can barely get by speaking their language. I’m having so much fun, making good money and learning a language, a culture and about myself.
But I’m still going to share with you the horrible stuff, because… the nice stuff is so damn boring by comparison.