Wrapping It Up

Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
Trip End Sep 09, 2009

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Where I stayed
Timiīs Couch

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It is funny to be writing about my trip to China while sitting in an internet cafe in Bolivia, but this is the first chance I have had in the last several weeks to sit down and breathe a bit. After returning from Shanghai I was in a wedding, went to the U2 show, took in a Cubs game and got ready to leave the country for seven to eight months, which is no small task. Now that I have a little time on my hands I can update the blog. I feel that is important to write about my final impressions of China because my previous posts didnīt mention a whole lot about the daily life that I experienced there. I have had the opportunity to write of the hospitality the Chinese showed me and all the other wonderful things that happened, but there was quite a number of things that were not all that pleasant and at times hilarious. This post is devoted to those things.

One of my favorite pastimes was spotting hilarious Chinglish phrases. Chinglish is the term for English language phrases written by the Chinese, which more often than not contain serious grammatical errors. I could go on for days about the different things I read, but I feel that it is better to let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy.

Another humorous aspect of China was the English language names that Timiīs students have chosen for themselves or had their parents choose for them. I am not really sure why they canīt just go by their Chinese names, but the fact is that they donīt and they often times pick names that are hilarious. There is a student named Grill. Another is Hero. There is a Shaq and a Crayon. One childīs parents were horrified to learn the meaning of their sonīs name: Hobo. Timiīs coworker used to be named Kinki until her American boyfriend explained its meaning. Maybe thatīs why he started dating her. I canīt make this stuff up.  There were also Bank, Young, Radish, Leer, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Funk, Gertie, Sailing, Barring, Tiger and Kobe, the latter being especially ironic given their hatred of the Japanese.

I was also enamored by the over the top high school style love exhibited by every single youngish Chinese couple. They are just sooooooo in love it is sick. Hand holding is just the beginning. They are constantly cooing to each other like freaking pigeons. They routinely wear matching outfits, or even better, outfits which complete one another. For example on several occasions I saw one person wearing a shirt that said LO while their partnerīs shirt read VE. And they always made sure to walk so that it read LOVE and not VELO. Gross.

Speaking of gross, have you ever seen a kid taking a crap on the street? I have. Many, many times. Kids up to roughly three years old wear pants that have a flap in the back, just like the old school PJīs you would wear to the outhouse. When they need to go they just squat down in the middle of the sidewalk and squeeze one out. No doggy poop bags either. When I mentioned this to Timi and said that I thought it was hilarious, she said, ĻWould you think it was funny if the kid was crapping in the aisle of a grocery store? Because Iīve seen em do it.Ļ Wow.

Animal rights are apparently not at the forefront of peopleīs minds. There are no medium sized dogs here; most are teeny and a few are huge. The tiny ones have it rough. If they are walking with their owner and encounter an obstruction, the dog gets airborne. The owner will simply lift it up by the leash and choke it momentarily, after which they keep waddling along happily. Poor flying puppies.

My mother absolutely despises it when people spit in public. Well, she is in for a rude awakening next week when she heads to China. They love to spit. And not just dribble it out a bit, nooooo, they can hack em up with the best of them. They spit everywhere and do it all the time. Little kids spit, grown men spit, it was even common to see an old lady hacking with so much force that I couldnīt help but wonder how her lungs didnīt tear. I was accidentally spit on more than once as well. It was absolutely nasty.

Shanghai in general is really gross. I have never been somewhere that smelled worse, and let me tell you, that is quite a statement. Urine is continually mixed in with other mal odors. I donīt know how to describe the stench, but it was overpowering and omnipresent. They even cook something that is literally translated as stinky tofu. Even the Chinese think it reeks, but they love the taste. This is one of the few dishes I did not sample.

What struck me the most in Shanghai was the amount of construction going on. I donīt think it would be unreasonable to say that the world has possibly never seen this amount of building at one time. Their business district, Pudong, is bigger than Chicagoīs loop and was just a field as recently as 1990. Bamboo scaffolding is everywhere; you cannot walk a block without ducking under some. Even the park at the Bund, what is supposed to be the cityīs most beautiful area, was completely inaccessible due to construction. At one point in Pudong I had to walk no less than a mile simply to cross the street because of the barricades which had been erected. It was crazy.

Construction workers did not seem to have the best work ethic. They slept on the rubble all day and didnīt begin to really work until 4 PM, when overtime kicks in. Socialism at its best. I will say, however, that China did not appear to me to be even remotely Communist, with the exception of the internet censorship. It is as capitalist as it gets; the idea that everyone is equal is laughable. There are rich and poor, with both sides leaning toward the extremes. Unlike America, however, moving up and down the classes appears to be more difficult, but I donīt know enough to express an educated opinion on that.

There you have it. China is an interesting place, if anything. Next time I visit I will spend my time exploring the Southern and Western rural areas, but I am glad to have been able to have spent this time in Shanghai while it is still developing. I canīt even begin to imagine the difference ten years will make. Take care. Now itīs back to Bolivia.
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