Its only taken me two months to figure out a way to get back onto my blog and publish things from China – I downloaded the WordPress app!
So after a whole two months here now, it definitely feels like I’ve been here forever. I recognise the people in my block, know what my favourite type of baozi 包子 is and I can bargain with local market stall holders….in Chinese!
What I realised today about China is how they’re not too bothered about public mess and dirt. I expected it to be messt and dirty in places but I never thought there would be open unattended man holes or piles of rubbish on the streets. There’s also a lot of litter on the streets and even in the touristy pavillions and scenic areas. Then there’s the spitting on the floor/ out of the car window. Its not everybody in China, but everyday I hear the hrghrghchrghck sound as somebody gears up to spit out the dirt that’s hiding in the depths of their throat.
I eat in the Chinese student’s canteen on campus and like at a school dining room, when you finish eating you pour your uneaten food in a slop bucket, put your chopsticks in the white bowl and tray on the side. The students clean up most of their things but leave meat bones in little piles on the table for somebody else to clean up.
I don’t understand it.
Public toilet hygiene isn’t too great either. Its normal to have squat toilets in public toilets and in theory they should be more hygienic as you don’t have to touch the toilet seat or toilet handle (you use your foot here). However convenient a hole in the toilet might be there’s always the issue of splashback which won’t be fun when I’m wearing sandals in summer….maybe I just need to practice my aim more. Also, there’s never any hot water in public toilets, only boiling “tap” water or cold water. There’s often no soap either so I’m always prepared with my hand Sanitizer and toilet paper.
On the subject of toilets, sometimes there’s no locks on the cubicle doors so if you don’t accidentally walk in on somebody peeing, chances are they’ll walk in on you. When this happens (yes its happened more than once) I’ve just looked down, zero eye contact. Chinese people stare at me enough when I’m walking in the street normally, let alone when I’m mid-wee.
Anyway, all the bad bits are over now, sorry if you were eating. I’m discovering new things that I like about China each week. This weekend I discovered chrysanthemum tea. At first I thought, why is he drinking water with daisies? Then I was given some and fell in love. Its now my favourite type of tea from China and am hoping I’ll be able to bring some back to the UK.
Recently I also started to watch a Chinese reality show called 爸爸去哪儿？ – where are we going daddy? There are five 4/5 year olds and their fathers who are taken to a remote place in China. They have to perform tasks, the children go on treasure hunts in the little village while the dads strugge to make food. At first I thought it was cruel as the first episode all the children were crying and wanting to go home. But now the Kids are used to it and they’re very cute. Its good for my Chinese too, listening and watching Chinese TV. They always have subtitles at the bottom too so its a listening and reading exercise.
Speaking of my Chinese. The improvement over the past two months is amazing. I’m surprised at myself when I can instantly remember vocabulary and also be able to ‘spell’ it correctly. My best friends in China are a mixture of Thai and Chinese students so 80% of my daily interactions are using Chinese. Because there are many Thais in my Chinese classes we get on really well and can practice the vocab/ grammar we’ve studied together outside and inside the classroom. Even if its a simple word like monkey, using it as a joke outside of the class really helps me remember it.
I must be well on my way to knowing 1000 characters now but I have no quick way of counting. It’s said that when you know the 3000 most common characters you can read a newspaper. My next challenge is to buy a Chinese magazine and see how much I can understand. I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
That’s all for now, keep up to date with my travels by following me on instagram – /leonah33 I update it with some pictures of China. Thanks for reading!