Unusual Things About China
Arriving in China
I had no idea what to expect upon landing at the airport in China. it is the first foreign country I've ever visited and I have honestly come to love it here. Here are some things I came to know about China through my first-hand experience which has become a norm for me now.
You see them everywhere, especially during the night time, tables outside, every square inch with bottles of Baijiu (白酒) alcohol which is also known as Chinese vodka, and middle aged men speaking loudly. It's more of a social norm, I was made to understand so when out with Chinese friends, it's not unusual to partake in drinking, it's a form of bonding.
Chinese people smoke a lot, it's a fact! I've been offered more cigarettes in taxis in China than I ever thought would happen in my lifetime. China is albeit the worlds largest consumer of tobacco with over 350 million smokers also producing 42% of the cigarettes consumed in the world, how about that? You have no choice but to accept it in a public environment or move to another location to avoid second-hand smoke and if you're in a taxi you can kindly request the driver not to smoke, they usually give in to such a request.
No, I do not want to drink warm water with this hot bowl of noodles in this thirty-degree weather. But still, I smile when I'm offered after all it's free. They believe it's good for digestion but frankly, I can never get used to it but surprisingly I have stopped drinking cold water instead opting for water which is at room temperature, maybe they have rubbed off on me after all.
First time I went to a swimming pool to get changed, the first thing I saw in the changing room was fully naked Chinese women just strolling about like hey it's happy hour which was also the same experience experienced as told to me by my male counterparts in the male dressing room. This was a culture shock for me because, in my country, such a thing was not the norm, people walked around with towels at the most. It's truly not shocking anymore, I've learned to embrace the fact that it's going to happen, gym or pool, as long as it's a dressing room be prepared to see a flux of naked people, just make sure to stay polite and not stare as everyone is going about their business despite being naked.
Pictures and Staring
I felt like a celebrity my first two months or so in China although it still happens often. I'd be walking down the road and a Chinese person would walk over to me with fingers making a symbol to donate a camera while repeatedly saying（照片zhào piàn) in my face before you know it, you're in a picture. The worst ones are the people who do not bother to ask instead just stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture of you. Trying to tell them to spot would just create unnecessary drama as I've come to learn they are not trying to be rude, it's their way of showing curiosity, playing along or even sending a smile makes them know they can approach you next time and that you don't bite, it's also a good way to meet people.
It's not a normal kind of spit whereby you just spit, it's more of a guttural thing, a sound which comes from deep down eventually evolving into a load of spit which comes out anywhere. I'm not one to nit pick but oh does this drive me crazy, as much as I've changed it's one of the only things which still disgusts me. It's believed that due to the excess pollution in the air there's a need to expel the impurities.
I almost didn't get used to the idea of being cashless at first but now I tend to leave my house with just my phone and my next important commodity, my charger. Say what you will but there's almost nothing you can't pay for at the moment using your phone, it's utterly convenient and very accessible.To give you an idea of how convenient it is, I must say I haven't had to carry cash on me unless I need to use the bus or go to the local grocery market. I often wonder how I'll be able to adjust back home with more limited options.
I'm sorry, but if you're not prepared to base rice at the very top of your eating chart, you're going to have a major problem. There is rice everywhere, I mean everywhere, even in my house. Sure, rice is a staple food in most countries, but my being in China has upgraded the meaning of the word "staple" for me. I eat rice almost every day and it's not odd to see posts of foreign students who don't live in big cities with which give them access to some of their local foods lamenting about the increase of rice in their diets. Apparently, China is now looking towards potatoes to take away the beloved title. I say rice or potatoes bring it on.
Ten in the morning and the underground market beneath my city is filled to the brim with people. My city does not have an underground subway system and is instead filled with hundreds of shops, you can spend a full day underneath the city. There's almost everything down there from restaurants to piercing parlors. it's truly amazing.
No matter what you have to say about China, Chinese people are very accepting and welcoming and so very curious about things.
© 2017 NAOMI ADENIJI