Tuesday, October 5, 2010

how i perceive china

i've been in china for 1,5 weeks and i can't say i'm sorry i'm leaving. well after some time you're getting used to the peole and their mentality, but still i am very much looking forward to tokyo. it probably was also worse since i was in china during the national day/golden week, where all chinese people are on the move and it is even more crowded.

shanghai didn't impress me much, but beijing was much better and a lot more to see and do. i already told you about the great wall (surprisingly i wasn't sore at all). on the actual national day i went to the forbidden city. it wasn't as crowded as i expected. for all of you who want to visit there, a word of advice: go in through the north gate - it is kind of the rear entrance and most people get in through the south gate. so you have a lot less hassle that way and it is actually quite enjoyable. i wanted to exit through the south gate, but that was not possible due to a gazillion people. i also couldn't make it to tiananmen square due to the massive amount of people. i tried on several days but no chance. the summer palace was really nice, but too many people again, so i left after only an hour. if you want to get anything for low cost go to pearl market and offer them about 20 - 30 % of their asking price. you gonna get them down to at least 50 % in the end.

i also did a cooking class for cantonese dim sum. that was the best experience i had in china. we started with a market tour, where we bought all the ingredients. the instructor explained all kinds of vegetables, spices, meats, etc. to us. finally a lot of stuff i wasn't able to place before made sense and i am not so "afraid" of chinese food anymore. after that we got an introduction into seasoning - what kind of soy sauce, rice wine to use for what kind of dish/meat. then we finally started the actual cooking. it was a lot of fun and making dim sum is actually not that hard. i definitely gonna make some when i'm back home!

following a few observations i made:

  • chinese people are pretty rude and reckless and no one watches out for each other - you get shoved and pushed all the time, instead of letting people get of the subway, they just push in; there is no standing in line, people just skip ahead of you if you are not fast enough; it truly is survival of the fittest here
  • crossing a street as a pedestrian (even if you have a green light) is life threatening - more than once i came within an inch of being hit by a car or even a bike
  • there are no real toilets just holes in the ground and usally without any stalls, so you're just in one room with a few women... but at least they have public toilets at every corner
  • the smell is terrible, especially in and around the public toilets
  • almost no one speaks even a word english and mostly everything is written in chinese letters. so ordering in a restaurant, if they don't have pictures in the menu, proves quite difficult and reading instructions of any kind (metro, directions, signs, etc) is not easy either
  • everything is really cheap - a subway ride no matter where (1 stop or a 40 minutes ride) costs 2 rmb, about 25 cents, same as a bottle of water
  • there are no machines cleaning the streets, people actually sweep the streets, even the highways
  • highways have about 6 lanes + 2 lanes for bikes
all in all i could have had a better experience, but still it was worth the trip. you at least have to see it for yourself. it's off to tokyo next, having a good feeling about that one. wish me luck!

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