Friday, January 05, 2007

3 things I didn't like about China

I had a blast during my recent trip to China (more later). But my homeland has three blemishes that I don't appreciate:

1. China is damn polluted! Opaque air that makes LA smog look like a Montana sky. Exhaust fumes from the cluttered streets. Smokers in every restaurant, adding their own streams.

One day in Shanghai, we were walking around the dock near the river. Tom came toward me:

"Why are you covering your mouth?" I asked. He reacted thusly:

I turned around to see a noxious blast from the rear of a passing boat:


2. You can hail a taxi with a wave of the hand, because they're everywhere. However, the trip will take five times as long as you expect.

The regular 1x.

2x from getting stuck in stop-and-go traffic.

1x from you having to navigate and call your destination for directions, because the driver just arrived from the countryside and doesn't know any streets in Beijing.

A final 1x because the taxi driver navigates in a big loop, in order to extract more money.


3. My loyal readers may remember me griping about New York toilets lacking seat covers. Chinese bathrooms lack a little more than that.

I got used to them within a day though, and was using them like a pro throughout the trip.

You don't need a toilet seat cover when there's no toilet.


Anonymous said...

Actually more sanitary because you touch nothing.

girlrobot said...

man, i'm scared of using those squat toilets. i'm not sure if i can visit china! haha. any tips?

Anonymous said...

Which way are you supposed to face?

Anonymous said...


Charles said...

Next time I go to Menlo I'll invite you to karaoke.

Anonymous said...

It is necessary to have a GPS device turned on during a taxi trip in China. Sometimes you may notice that the taxi driver is driving in a direction opposite to the destination.

Niniane said...

> Which way are you supposed to face?

You face away from the wall. Also, there's no stall door, and the stall wall is often only four feet high. So, everyone can see everyone else.

crazyinseattle said...

Ha Ha -- That's one of the cleaner toilet stalls I've seen in China. Try driving around way in the countryside and then try to find a place with a toilet! It'll be interesting to see how things finally turn out in Beijing as they continue to prepare for the influx of visitors during the Olympics. Among the first changes ordered was a complete upgrade to all public toilets as well as the banning of all public spitting (good luck on that one!). I plan on going just to see how things have improved (without necessarily going to any Olympic events).

All things considered, China seems to be learning very quickly from the mistakes of the Western industrialization. You have no choice when you're managing a still-growing country of one-and-a-half billion people.

BTW back to the subject of those hole-in-the-floor toilets: They're even more "fun" when you have to use one on a moving train. Ahem!

ArC said...

as well as the banning of all public spitting (good luck on that one!).

I thought the SARS threat had accomplished that feat of behaviour modification quite quickly... (I believe it did in HK, though I understand the culture of HK and the mainland are a wee bit different.)

Anonymous said...

Wow squat toilet! Obviously they are not catering for overweight people who cant squat!

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Anonymous said...

We must confess that it is true in some places.