A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

Farewell to Cheap Massages, Cute Kids, Squat Toilets, Dirty Air

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Cruising 35,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean on my flight home to the U.S., I’m thinking of all the things I’m going to miss about China – and some of the things I’d just as soon forget.

Things I’ll Miss:

  • My students: Their English was lousy, but they really tried to learn. They treated me like royalty and became my friends as well as my pupils.
  • The food: Though it took awhile, I learned to love real Chinese cuisine. It’s actually healthier and better tasting than Chinese food in the U.S.
  • Massages: They were incredibly cheap and relaxing, though the masseuse will spend the whole time on your feet unless you request otherwise.
  • The children: The Chinese have the cutest kids in the world. Parents dress them like dolls and spoil them like little princes and princesses.
  • My colleagues: Most of my fellow teachers were dedicated, generous and congenial. There were a few exceptions, of course, but overall it was a pleasure working with them.
  • My friends: I made lots of great friends in China — at my university, at bars and restaurants like Zax BBQ and Tao, in the streets, at Swallow’s Nest foster home, on tennis and basketball courts, and during my travels around the country.
  • Unforgettable places: Goodbye to Xi’an, Chengdu and Guilin. Farewell to Yangshuo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Things I’d Just as Soon Forget:

  • Air pollution: Seeing the sun in Zhengzhou was as rare as seeing a lunar eclipse. The sky was perpetually smoggy and the air was so dirty that breathing masks were a common sight.
  • Spitting: It’s a national sport for Chinese men, who seem to compete for the most disgusting way to expectorate.
  • Squat toilets: You’ve got to be a gymnast to use them, and they can’t handle toilet paper. Trash cans are filled with used paper that makes the bathrooms smell like sewers.
  • Lines: You’ve got to wait for everything, which isn’t surprising when you’re dealing with 1.3 million people. And long lines often lead to pushing, shoving and people cutting in front of you.
  • Shoddy construction and maintenance: Even relatively new buildings look like they’re about to fall down. On my campus, which is only a dozen years old, almost all the buildings had filthy walls, cracked floors and broken fixtures.

 

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Categorised in: Children, China, Construction, Henan University of Technology, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Travel, Weather, Zhengzhou

1 Response »

  1. Rick! How’s it going? How’s home?

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