Six weeks? Already? Good lord time goes quickly. My time in China has officially come to a close, and I write to you now from the lovely Narita Airport and its free wifi. Hallelujah. China was an adventure to say the least. I have never before spent so much time in a place where I knew so little. I was one-hundred percent an anomaly in a sea black hair coming up to my chin. It wasn’t anything like I imagined and yet it was exactly as it was, I suppose. I waded my way through difficult communication, impossible navigation, considerable frustration, oh and piles of fried rice, but I came out better than I was going in. Or at least I hope I did. So I’d like to share with you some things I learned about China, and about life in general, that could only be learned after six weeks in a country where I knew nothing, and no one.
- Those lines you see in the middle of the road? Those are just decoration. Street lights? Merely suggestions. No signs nor lines nor lights can stop a Chinese driver should he or she wish to go. The rules of the road are made by she (or he) who honks the loudest, and most often.
- You’re white???? What’s that? You’re not a celebrity? Yes, actually you are. And people will take their picture with you. Or of you. Whether you tell them it’s okay or not. Smile, you’re famous!
- If you’re used to waiting patiently for your turn, you will fail in China. There is no such thing as waiting in line; only pushing ahead. If you hesitate, you will be left behind. And possibly trod upon. I may or may not have perma-bruises on my feet. Just saying.
- The sun does not rise nor set in China*. Rather, the world simply fades into and out of light. And some days, it never fully fades in. They sell fashionable facemasks for a reason.
- Need to hawk a loogie or pick a pesky booger but can’t find a private place? Don’t worry about it. Just go ahead and spit that snot into the street. Flick that bogie wherever you please. Don’t even pay any mind to the people standing around you. They won’t pay any mind to you.
- Your kid has to pee? Well there’s a tree right over there, or how about that statue people are taking pictures of? Too far to walk? Tell them to just squat right where they are. All the other kids are doing it. Diapers are so last season.
- On that note, please do watch where you step.
- Chinese food rocks. Period. It’s oily and healthy at the same time. It’s spicy and it’s sweet. It makes you sweat and makes you smile. And I can’t wait to make some at home.
Joking (or not) aside, though, I am extremely grateful for my time spent in China. People were kind, and no one once yelled at me despite my complete lack of ability to communicate. (Well, once but I think she was trying to ask me where I was from.) They generally understood. And always made sure I ate. It was an incredible experience to live there for the short time that I did. So, to all the people I met and befriended in China (and the other billion I didn’t): Thank you. Thank you for your time and your kindness, and your food. And thanks for having me. I hope to see you again.
But right now. I am looking forward to some In N Out followed by a trip to TJ’s for some baking supplies.. Oh California, I have missed you so!
*This is not always true: we had at least two days of blue sky in Beijing. And I saw the sun at least 4 times in six weeks. I think. But China is a giant country and I was in a city heavy with industry. Maybe they have sun in other parts? They must get their vitamin D somehow..