Thursday, February 2, 2017

Because China

Angry Bird lanterns at YueXiu Park
On some of my Chinese adoption Facebook groups, people ask questions about timelines or why things are done a certain way or about something that seems confusing. The answer is often #BecauseChina. Sometimes there's just no other reason! This post includes random things about China that I want to remember and/or thought other people might find interesting. I've also included some random pictures that didn't fit with any other blog post so far. Enjoy!

Bring your own toilet paper,
and throw it in that trash can!
Squatty Potties

It's just how it's done around here. While our hotels have Western toilets and some public areas have the choice of either type, by and large, if you go to the bathroom in China, you're going to use a squatty potty. Johanna was definitely used to using one; she squats like a pro. They're not my favorite, but I try to squat above public toilets anyway, so it's not that different.

Feeding the birds by the Star of Nanchang
Noise Level=Loud

There always seems to be some sort of noise in China. You've seen devices with governors on how loud the volume can get? Well, the televisions in our hotel room have governors on how quiet they can get...not very quiet at all! We've been shocked at how loud the volume is on everything from the prerecorded message in the cable car at Baiyun Mountain to the announcer's microphone on the Safari Park tram ride to the music playing in elevators or at stores. It's kind of maddening at times!

Johanna's clothes when she came to us.
The striped and teal pants are split pants!

I've mentioned this one before, but Chinese people seem to wear several layers. I honestly don't think I've seen anyone wearing short sleeves, and it's about 70 degrees in Guangzhou! The kids are especially bundled up. Under Johanna’s big puffy coat, she had a thermal layer, a sweater vest, and a sweater. On her legs she had two pairs of split pants with sweatpants over them. Once we did change her clothes, we got a few comments (from older Chinese ladies) about the lack of layers on her legs. Apparently leggings are just not enough in 65 degree weather!

Because a giant transformer makes total
sense at the top of Baiyun Mountain!
Split Pants

Chinese kids wear split pants. These are pants that aren’t sewn up the butt crack. Seriously. It’s a big long split, so the little ones can easily go to the bathroom without removing any clothing. We saw one mother holding her baby over a dirt patch near a tree on the sidewalk in broad daylight, and the little guy was just peeing away through his pants. When Johanna first came to us, she’d pull down her sweatpants and go to the bathroom through her split pants. It works, but I’m not sure of the reasoning behind it, other than convenience for the very little ones.

Jonas gave the walking path a try!

Reflexology Walking Paths

In several parks, there are paths with raised pebbles. You're supposed to walk on them barefoot, and the stones massage certain parts of your feet, hitting reflexology points. It hurts! 


All the guys here seem to do it. Everywhere. It's pretty smelly. They light up immediately when they exit the subway or train. I definitely miss the nonsmoking mentality of the United States.


Everything in China is either "famous" or the "best" or bigger and better than anywhere else, or so they say! It's kind of amusing, but you can never exactly believe what you read or hear about things here.

Hanging meat in a porcelain shop is totally normal!
Lack of White Foreigners

I guess I expected China to be more like other Asian countries we've visited, where we saw lots of other Caucasian people. Here we barely see any! There were of course the other adoptive families in Guangzhou, but even in Beijing at the major tourist sites, we stood out as foreigners. In Nanchang that makes sense, but I wasn't expecting it in the larger cities. It wasn’t until we got to Hong Kong that we saw other white people on a regular basis.

Machines like this were everywhere.
They move and play loud music.

Everywhere we go, people stare at us. It's usually not even a secretive quick glance; it's an all-out very obvious stare that lasts until they pass by, and then they usually turn around and keep looking! Chinese children love to point at us, giggle, run up to us and say "hello," and run away laughing. Comments have been made about our height, our eye color, our connection with the children, etc. It’s usually more amusing than anything else, but sometimes I just want to stare back and say, “Take a picture; it’ll last longer!”

Dancing ladies at People's Park
Elderly Exercise

The older people in China are fit! Every park has an exercise area with contraptions for people to stretch, bend, and workout. If they're not using those, people are dancing or doing tai chi, or active in some way!

Personal Space

It doesn’t exist here. If you need to get on the subway, you shove. It doesn’t matter if you are taking out little old ladies in the process. After all, you need to get on. Everyone stands extremely close to one another. Shoving happens on elevators, trams, airport lines, basically everywhere. You just ram up against each other and do what you’ve got to do.

Finger Licking Braised Pork Flavor-yum!

English translations of Chinese signs, menus, etc. are often amusingly inaccurate. It can also sometimes cause problems. When we rented the boat at Yuexiu Park, the sign said the price was for one hour in English. However, in Chinese it apparently said thirty minutes. So we were going around and around with the boat rental guy, who in our minds was trying to charge us double. Finally, a Chinese guy from Australia who spoke both Chinese and English walked by and asked if we needed help. He was able to explain what the sign said in Chinese and that the sign was translated inaccurately to the rental guy. Once we all understood, we paid the correct fee and had a good laugh, but for awhile there, we were getting kind of mad, thinking he was trying to overcharge us!

A beautiful view from the plane
when we landed in China!

You can't access websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc. in China. They're blocked. You have to use what is called a VPN, which helps you get around the block. It's something you have to download onto your devices before you go there. China is always trying to crack down on VPNs, so various ones work better than others at various times. I've also heard that movies are edited to take out any scenes where China comes off looking bad.

Selfie Sticks

Everyone seems to have one! They are not seen as embarrassing, weird, awkward, etc. There are often signs posted at attractions, indicating that you aren't allowed to use them. And they are banned on in-country flights.

Lots of fish to feed at People's Park

You can't drink water straight from the faucet, or at least we visitors can't without getting sick. Bottled water was our friend. And hot water is a thing. It’s served at restaurants instead of cold or tap water, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. It’s also available in dispensers at the airport and on trains. People use it to make themselves ramen noodles as a snack; it's kind of genius! 

Oh China, so many interesting things about this country. I guess that's what makes traveling so great! I'm already missing the noodles there!

1 comment:

  1. Aubree, great idea to document the minutia of your trip, which otherwise will fade into the recesses of your memory. Of course, I never do this, but I am glad you did! Is it too late to turn over a new leaf?