Thursday, July 9, 2009

Final Thoughts on China (Humorous version)

Here are some final thoughts on my trip in Top Ten List format. Also find attached, photo of me at the Great Wall with some random family that asked me to be in their picture. Bye China!

Most surprising discoveries about China:
1. Crotchless pants
2. Eggplant is the most delicious vegetable ever
3. Freedom of expression is more open than I thought
4. Access to information is more restricted than I thought
5. Beer in a bag
6. Yogurt in popsicle form
7. Its really easy to get past the Great Firewall
8. Its really hard to climb the Great Wall
9. I love shopping
10. No egg rolls, no fortune cookies, and very little dog on the menu

Things I won’t miss about China:
1. Squatters
2. Smoking everywhere
3. Children using the sidewalk as a bathroom
4. The smells (see previous three items)
5. Crossing the street
6. Being stared at constantly
7. Accidentally ordering 4 of the same dish at restaurants
8. Rock hard beds
9. Overly attentive waitstaff
10. Lack of cheese

Final Thoughts on China (Meaningful version)

I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to London, and thinking about how far I’ve come on this trip.  I grab a snack in an airport restaurant, and as a I eat my sticky rice (silently judging the quality and texture as less than exceptional), with my chopsticks (that I can hold at the very back like a pro) and count out my last few quai, I give a quiet thank you to China in my head. This trip definitely felt less like a vacation and more like an experience, and for that I’m very grateful. I’m going home with so much more knowledge than I had when I arrived, and at least an appreciation, if not yet a complete understanding, of what it means to be Chinese in an incredibly turbulent and significant time in this country. I will watch the news from China with a more critical eye, and notice the changes there with a personal attachment to the people that I’ve met and the places that I’ve seen. So thanks, China, for teaching me so much. I promise that the next time I order an egg roll, I will do so with an appropriately cynical look.

Final Thoughts on China (Journalistically worthy version)

Here are the final thoughts I wrote for class, looking at what I had learned about China. Its not nearly as long as that last story, so if you made it though that one, this one’s a breeze. Also, I wanted to refer you to (or reference) Caitlin’s story about condoms in China. There’s a section that basically delineates how American women are sluttier than Chinese women. Thought some of you readers might appreciate that.

Something is always under construction here.

Here’s a look at the scene in front of the hostel where I’m staying.

Its been under construction for 3 months according to the shop owner down the street (very bad for business, she said, and then talked me into buying some bags). What’s amazing is that enormous trenches and pipe work on a street does not slow anyone down. They just set up little ramps along the side of the trench and you wind your way along, climbing over metal pipes and trying to avoid getting tetanus until you get to the shop you want. It may look like chaos today, but probably in a week there will be a completely new street over all of it. Yesterday morning I walked out of the hostel and there was a huge hole where the front steps used to be, and within a few hours pipes had been installed and the hold refilled. Construction moves insanely fast here it seems like. That being said, its not always thanks to modern conveniences. Most of the work is done by hand or with manual tools. The one power tool I saw employed in this process was this little backhoe that was lifting dirt into a janky wheelbarrow, which was then rolled over to a spot where it could be dumped. I’m not sure how this was more effective than using a shovel, but if China is anything like Texas, then any excuse to use a power tool is a good one I guess.

One more clothing item to envy.

I forgot to post this earlier. These are the fantastic little socks that all the Chinese ladies wear. At first we were laughing at how ugly they were - like miniature panty hose with a cuff - but then Caitlin bought everyone a pair and we wore them to the Terracotta Warriors. Turns out, they are the most comfortable socks ever! And they prevent blisters, and keep your feet from sweating. Damn China, why can’t you export this clever little invention? No worries, I’m exporting them myself.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Last day at the beach.

I’m headed back to Beijing today to spend a few more days before my flight to London. I haven’t gotten in that much beach time because we’ve had some rain, so I got up early to spend the morning on the shore. I think it was the first time I’ve been somewhere in China that actually smells good. It was quite lovely. And of course I got to enjoy some more of the insanity of a China beach, and I would like to share a few of the things that you do not want to miss if you ever visit one:


Face masks.

Sand angels.

Leg lifts.

Push ups.

Buried children.


Weight lifting.

And my personal favorite...smoking while exercising.

Squid on a Stick.

We are staying in a town on the coast, so I felt obligated to try one of the many sea dwelling creatures that they serve grilled on a stick. I think this is squid, and it was pretty tasty. It went well with my favorite yogurt popsicle that I have been buying like a fiend in Qingdao after being deprived of them in Shanghai. China needs to get its popsicle distribution system in order, I can’t be having to search around for these pops.