Sunday, April 3, 2011

Top Fives from China

B and A's apartment
The top five things in China I didn't like:

1. The pollution. It was pretty bad, both in the air and what could be seen from the water. Ernst often had tightness in his chest from the air quality.

2. The hacking and spitting. If spitting were an Olympic sport, China would sweep the medals. We got through it by using a rating system. 1-10 in degrees of difficulty, volume, loudness and gag factor. We heard many that rated above 6.5 and a few perfect tens.

3. The bumping and shoving. One train ride had us all pushed so violently into the subway, Angelina got pushed down and nearly stepped on. It was scary. But the up-side is that you don't have to expend a lot of energy apologizing when you knock into people. Now that would be exhausting.

4. The haggling and bargaining. Just put a fair price on the items, let me browse and decide if I want something. Haggling is so tiring. And we always walked away wondering if we could have done better.

5. Did I mention the spitting?

The top five things I loved about China:

1. The people. They have experienced so much hardship, yet they have emerged with an incredible Can Do spirit. Some of the most enterprising things we saw were: on the street dentistry, sidewalk bike repair and food stalls out of the fronts of houses. And the blind massage places, what a win win idea!

2. The food. Every day and night we had unbelievably great food, some dirt cheap some even cheaper. We walked gobs, but didn't manage to lose weight because we ate like kings. The quality and taste were like nothing we had before, Oh My Word Delicious.

3. The sights. We had some gorgeous days to experience the Great Wall, Beijing. Mount Tai and Qingdao. I was surprised how few foreigners we saw, I guess because we went with locals. The Great Wall is something to behold, an engineering feat that boggles the mind. And whoever put those 6000 plus steps all the way up the mountain in Tai Shan? And then a gondola half way up for the wimps? Thank you very much. That sunrise was an enchanting moment.

4. The children. Yes there are tons of them and yes they are the cutest on this planet. One of my favorite things we did was a trip to a park full of families and kids. The joy they had in making soon to disappear water marks on concrete was endearing. No batteries, no flashing lights, no electronics, just children learning how to write a most ancient and beautiful language from their elders. Simply lovely.

5. Did I mention the food? Picture a food court in a US mall. Now picture one card that pays for it all, over the top delicious food, with choices even for vegans, and then picture no garbage. All the places have their own distinctive plates and cups that they collect and wash. The only garbage is wooden chopsticks. Wouldn't that be a truly "Green" way of eating? Why can the Chinese do it and they can't do it here?

That is what is so amazing about that place. Some things they are doing are horrendous. The lack of human rights, the pollution, the ridiculous lack of planning. But in other ways? Their transportation, their food, their ingenuity, the high literacy rate, the healthy size of the average person, all very inspiring. I wrote before we left that I had no expectations, but even so I was not prepared. The modern stores. The charming and colorful vegetable stands. The bullet trains. The bicycles mounted with coal heated sweet potatoes! The intersections dealing with buses, taxis, bicycles, cars, scooters, 3 wheeled cars, pedestrians and bicycle carts. China is Topsy Turvy amazing. We only saw a snippet and I can't wait to return!

Our spring yard welcomed us home