Don’t eat the candy.
I have been in China for two weeks. Nearly every day of the last fourteen has consisted of some sort of “discovery” on my part. For example:
- Sometimes, you just won’t have hot water. Period. It’s been 3 days since I had a hot shower. Tonight I turned off my air and waited for my apartment to reach uncomfortably hot levels before I hopped in. Quickest shower of my life at a whopping 60 seconds. I have no idea when the water will come back — but it will be a very very good day when it does.
- Your clothes will literally never feel or smell clean. Ever. I have a washing machine — but it’s so small, it probably only washes like 3 shirts at a time. Lord help me if I want to wash a towel. Detergent is expensive here, but you think — okay, at least my clothes will sort of smell like home? No. My clothes come out of the washer smelling almost as they did when they went in. Dryer? Psh, what’s that? In China they believe it is healthier to hang everything to dry. In China, they also believe in building things constantly and not regulating pollution so the air is filthy and there is dust everywhere, all the time. That said, my black clothing doesn’t stay black very long once it is hung to dry. I miss electric dryers and the smell of clean clothes like you would not believe.
- Naked babies. Naked babies EVERYWHERE. I cannot even tell you how many naked baby butts I see everyday. Naked babies on the subway. Naked babies on the street. Naked babies in the restaurants. Naked babies roaming around with holes in their pants so they can just go whenever they please. Yes, whenever they please. Wherever they please. Dear America, thank you for making diapers the norm. Baby butts are so cute — but babies pooping in the street — ehh, I’m going to have to take that off my list of things I find adorable.
- Your skin and hair will never be the same. Ugh. Okay, for a moment I’m going to drop the “it’s sort of funny” vibe and jump right into the — “I HATE what China has done to my hair and skin” chapter of this blog. It has never been so dry and unmanageable in my life. You’d think in a place that is so humid you can physically feel the moisture when you breathe you’d have this radiant complexion and luxurious hair — NOT. Don’t even get me started on blow drying. What’s that? Why would you do that when it’s 104 degrees with 100% humidity? You wouldn’t. Instead I leave the house with my natural (now dry) curls and I cry. I cry and I cry because it’s SO UGLY. (Okay, I don’t cry, but I want to). Thank goodness I have golden blonde lockes or people would be staring at me for reasons other than the fact I look like a Disney princess. Though I’m certain the Disney princesses don’t have bad hair days.
- Don’t get too excited when you see Western products in the grocery store. They don’t taste like you want them to. Not to mention the fact they’re outrageously expensive. Also — Mcdonald’s in China literally has a burger made out of shrimp. KFC in China sells this interesting milk porridge and between you and I — I’m not so sure it’s chicken. Pizza hut makes pizza covered in seafood and soy sauce. You will come to China thinking — It’s like the most advanced country in the world — everything will be the same if not better. Wrong. In so many ways, it is better — but in many ways, it’s terrifyingly different (ehhh shrimp burger?).
- Squat toilets, they are not SO bad. (This one is for you mother). Most places in China (aside from hotels, and newer apartment buildings like mine) offer restroom facilities that are, for lack of a better word, primitive? They don’t offer toilet paper, you must bring your own. The Chinese also don’t flush their toilet paper — so it finds a home in the nearest waste basket. Have I sold you on coming to China yet? The hole in the ground thing doesn’t really freak me out — been there done that, so I wasn’t that concerned about living in China. I have noticed however, when I am in a place that does offer western toilets, the locals will still stand on the toilet seat in order to use the bathroom. Yeah yeah, be grossed out. This is my life people. I so cannot wait for LP to get here…;)
- Finally, last but not least on my list of recent discoveries. The candy. My coworkers are constantly offering me candy. I turn them down as I’m not really a sweets person as it is — but a couple of days ago I finally gave in and said I’d try one. The candy comes delicately wrapped in pretty blue foil. It looks like anything you’d see at home — a Werther’s Original in blue, if you will. Be careful how hopeful and optimistic you are in China — it will bite you in the ass. Much to my surprise and disgust, I now had a mouth full of fermented yak meat. Oh joy. Just what I had been craving. If I can give you one piece of advice before you visit China — it’s this. Don’t eat the candy.
All in all, China is growing on me. Its quirks and kinks are as entertaining as they are intimidating — but I cannot say I’m surprised by the things I’ve witnessed and encountered. When you leave one culture and lifestyle for another, you’re bound to face shock and awe. Part of traveling and experiencing the world is embracing the things that shock us, and laughing at ourselves in the midst the chaos we are surrounded by. I’m off to hang more “clean” laundry and continue fighting off this awesome cold of mine. Until next time, much love from China. ❤