China is a funny place. It is one huge anachronism.
Right now, I am looking out my hotel window, and in the middle of the roundabout is a 700 year old bell tower temple where they still ring the bell. Behind it there are three huge times square type screens with advertisements on the modern high rise buildings.
Driving in China. All those movies you see about how insane foreign driving is – no kidding, it doesn’t even come close. I don’t even look out the bus window anymore until we get outside of town. Cars and buses and bikes and motorcycles and pedestrians all navigating the roads at once. There are almost no traffic lights. As far as I can tell there are no traffic laws. It is insane. And yet, we haven’t seen a wreck yet. And we’ve seen almost no dented cars. ??? I have no idea.
I have stayed at the most opulent hotels I have ever been in. The rooms are huge. There are fantastic furnishings. Absolutely top notch. And the wiring in these places is screwy, to put it mildly. Seeming unrelated lights are wired to arbitrary outlets. Lights require some kind of particular sequencing of switches before they come on (as well as the accompanying outlet). Every night I play “outlet roulette.” In this enormous room there are exactly three outlets, including the one for the TV. In those outlets, the two plug ins are completely different. When I use my adapters or converters to plug things in, we begin the roulette. The ones that look the same do not fit the same. Each charger is taken to each plug to see what fits. At times chargers must be plugged into the wall and held into place with duct tape. Then I have to make sure that the appropriate switch is turned on and either unplug the lamp that is attached to that outlet, or hope that my sleeping mask will block out the light.
Toilets. Many toilets here are squat toilets. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s just like what it sounds. These are usually just as well plumbed as western style toilets, and often even have automatic flushers. However, you must bring your own toilet paper. Sometimes there is some outside the stall in the main bathroom, but not usually. After having been afraid of these toilets before we arrived here, we’ve all about decided that they may be preferable to western toilets. No seat with germs and no hovering.
Cleanliness. The air is unbelievably polluted. It coats us all over in a day. But people the streets are very clean. There are people whose sole job is one specific area to keep clean at all times. For instance, in the airports there is a woman that comes in behind every single person and mops the floor in the stall.
China is a funny place.