Tag Archives: smog

Another S and more notes from China

In addition to the previous post I made about the Ss of China, I would like to add a fifth – shoving.

While we were beginning to enter The Forbidden city, a group of us decided to use the restroom. It was too early in the day for the experience we had and there was definitely a bit of culture shock. In Western cultures, you make a nice orderly line (actually in the Thai culture they do as well) but in China, as we had discovered on the trip, it is a free for all. You grab your group of ladies and find a stall. Then everyone waits outside of it, guarding the door and taking turns going to the restroom. As a result it seems like a cattle call, with Chinese women yelling, pushing, shoving, and hoarding their space. We were not expecting to have to fight to use the restroom. I was able to snag a stall though and another lady got a stall as well, so our group of 8 ladies used the restroom Chinese style. I can laugh about the experience now but at the time we were cranky and sleep-deprived having just gotten off our third overnight train.

Other notes:

Remember when I talked about smog in an earlier post, well the Beijing marathon was just held despite calls to cancel it. The US Embassy found that the pollution was at 400 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 25 micrograms per cubic meter. Most runners wore masks and ended up dropping out early. You can read an article about it here.

Pregnant women are rarely seen in China. Because of the one child rule (although there is always a way around this when $$ talks), women we protected during their pregnancy and spend most of it at home.

When walking around it was common to see bare-bottomed children due to a slit in their pants up the middle. Traditionally, Chinese children do not wear diapers so the slit allows them to go to the restroom anywhere rather quickly without soiling their clothing.

It is common for men to carry their girlfriend’s purse. It’s to show they are “together.”


The 3 (or 4) Ss of China

There are typically 3 Ss associated with China:

1) Smoking
– There are no ordinances to control smoking in public, restaurants, and hotels. As a result it is common to see the person next to you light up as they are eating or to walk into an elevator filled with smoke.

2) Spitting
– Do you remember that scene in Titanic where Jack is trying to teach Kate how to spit over the side of the boat? That plus some is what spitting is like in China. It is an obnoxious sound, almost as if the people are winding up for the spit. You hear it continuously.

3) Staring
– I am used to be stared at so this doesn’t bother me as much as I have stopped noticing it most of the time, but other people in my group have commented on the staring. They will stare even after you have made eye contact with them.

A fourth I would like to add is this:

4) Smog
– Every city we have been to thus far has the smog haze over it. It affects your throat and also the distance you can see. Rain doesn’t even help it. Earlier this year in Beijing, it reached a level that was 26 times more than the amount considered safe by the World Health Organization. You wonder what effect it has on the health of Chinese citizens.