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Top 3 “Oh Shit, I’m in China Moments”

July 28, 2011

This is not an “I hate China” list. These are just some things which makes my time in China a little more interesting, frustrating, and at the end of the day, an experience.

1. Recently, China overcame Japan to be the world’s second largest economy. Nevertheless, there are some strange flaws in their economic system. For example, my girlfriend and I journeyed with a tour group to go to Inner Mongolia and Datong for the weekend. Instead of taking the train, we took the bus to get to our destination. The bus was filled mainly with students from different countries. According to our tour guide, the trip should only take 4 hours including gas stops and bathroom breaks.

We left Beijing around 6 PM during rush hour. (I don’t know why we did that in the first place.) Obviously, we hit traffic, so by 10 PM, we were only half way to our hotel. Around 11 PM, it started to happen. The only people on the road were truck drivers, a couple of cars, and us. Once again, there was traffic! Traffic at 11 PM!!! You have to be kidding me.

The bus driver then turned off the bus. We all looked up and wondered. For some odd reason, it is ok for a truck driver to stop in the middle of the highway, turn off his truck, and take a break, because he is tired. This in turn starts a chain of other truck drivers that take breaks as well, covering the 2-lane highway into a 50 km rest area!

The weird part is, it’s an accepted reality. No one honks their horn to wake the drivers up. It’s almost as if the later drivers are happy to stop and take a break. The only reason the traffic starts moving is because there is a police officer that starts driving down and wakes up the drivers to start moving. This ridiculous cycle occurs every 5 km or so.

What should have taken us 4 hours to get to our destination, took us 9 hours! It took us 3 hours to go 50 km! This was truly an “Oh shit, I’m in China” moment.

2. China can be a very “me, me, me” society. Yes, I have heard of parents urging their kids to take the toys of other kids at the playground.  However, to be a little bit less specific, I’d like to give a better example of the “me, me, and me.” The Chinese may have gotten rid of the gene to get on line (queue up for your non-Americans). In any situation I am in, the Chinese have found a way to cut the line and other people don’t say anything about it.

Maybe it’s a western thing or a Japanese thing, but I just don’t understand it. Why is it ok to cut people on line? Why don’t people know how to wait for their turn? There is a line of people waiting to get into a movie theater, however it’s ok for some people to just cut. One time, I was at McDonald’s in the middle of ordering and some lady just tried to bash in and start ordering herself.

3.  I think an interesting experience is watching the Chinese people having dinner. They order so much, so much to the point that everything cannot be eaten. The food itself is an experience. I don’t know what it is half the time. They also order beer after beer after beer. Then comes the check; every time the check comes, it’s like the beginning of an epic battle. Hands are everywhere trying to grab it, people are screaming at each other, and then someone wins and pays. Everything goes back to normal.

There are some negative aspects as well. Sometimes Chinese people have no patience to wait for food, so they will say something like, “我的点菜还没来” which literally translates to, “My food did not come yet.”

Honorable Mention: I wasn’t there but there was a so-called “Kunming City Official Apple Store.” Read it here.

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