A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

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


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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