China part deux: What were we thinking!

Six months ago we bought multiple entry visa’s for China. Four months ago I left China, cursing the craziness and swearing that I would never be back. This week we walked across the bridge from Vietnam back into China.

Leaving Vietnam in proper fashion - on the back of a scooter!

What a shock!

Six months ago we were comparing China to the places we’ve visited: to Europe, South Africa and Latin America. Today we’re comparing China to other countries in Asia. And with that small shift in expectations, our perspective on China has radically changed.

There are three lane highways and skyscrapers! The traffic that I once ranted about seems orderly and controlled, rather than chaotic. The restaurants and shopping centres are indoors, rather than strewn on the sidewalk. China suddenly appears clean, functional and tremendously modern.

Walking across the bridge to China

And the screaming, the smoking and the spitting that once drove me insane? Somehow in the last few months all of those things have become understandable. Suddenly the tonal Chinese language doesn’t sound like someone cursing at you to “eat shit and die, motherfucker.” Now the same sentence sounds more like, “Ahh, hi there! Welcome back, have you eaten yet?”

My favorite thing about China - DUMPLINGS!

We’ve come to understand that in China some people believe that spitting rids your body of it’s impurities. It’s still utterly foul to watch an old woman clear her throat, whip out a plastic bag and into it hawk a huge, flemmy loggie. But now at least we can accept why it happens and move on. (In typical Chinese fashion the government has gotten involved, punishing people for anti-social behavior like spitting, throwing trash out the window and drying laundry on fences.)

And the smoking? It’s totally normal. Asia is like New York City in 1956 before people started dying of emphysema and suing the tobacco companies.

Vinnie and our Chinese Taxi

It’s exciting to be back and to realize that China hasn’t changed at all – but we have. The past six months have given us a new understand of the world and our place in it. Surprisingly we’re pretty sure that Asia is going to play a key role in our life moving forward. We love the people, we love the food, and we even love the loud, smoggy, dense urban landscape.

In fact, the only thing that remains utterly crap about China is the internet. All US websites are throttled, the wireless connection never works and you’re forced to use internet cafes – all of which run IE6.

There is a special place in internet hell reserved for the Chinese government and the developers of IE6.

4 thoughts on “China part deux: What were we thinking!

  1. I guess Firefox is out of the question? Have a great time. Can’t wait to talk to you in a couple of weeks. Hope your knees can stand it. Celebrating Julie’s 30th today. We’ll be thinking of you…Love, Pop

  2. Haha, you finally understand China. It took me about 5-6 month as well to stop looking at what’s different as annoying and accept it as it is… Except for the internet.

    I absolutely hate IE6 and all the sites that break in other browsers. I have to use Firebug to fix javascript errors so I can submit forms here. If I can fix your site in 5 minutes, why did you pay your developers in the first place? Moreover, my girlfriend has a separate computer running an old version of IE just so she can do online banking. Crazy.

    1. ie6 = so much frustration, funny about using firebug and a separate computer. i’m back to ‘real’ internets for the time being, in singapore. I can’t believe how popular ie6 is in china though, that’s just bat shit crazy :p why don’t ppl upgrade the public computers?

  3. hello! Im a Mexican living in China, I have had and still having a cultural shock here in China. People are spitting anywhere, little kids with opened pants are taking a piss or a shit anywhere in the street and many other “disgusting” things go on on this country; however, during the time that I have been here I’ve realized that China has many things to offer to anyone who is up to explore and know about an ancient culture which is completely different to the common Occidental (at least it is completely different to Mexico’s way of living) and I have found this country a place where I give value to most of the things that I used to have back in home: Food, friends, culture, and the regular toilet! hahaha. Despite everything that might be uncomfortable or hard to adapt to, China is a beautiful place! This trip has changed my life.

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