10 things I learned in my first 24 hours in China
- I am a minority: I’ve only seen one other non-asian person since I got on my last airplane. It was an Australian guy who was on the flight. He saved me on #5 & #7 on this list. Thanks mate.
- People observe unique people: Being the only white person around, people tend to stare. Children are especially funny and they look at me like something is wrong with me.
- I don’t think anyone here knows what peripheral vision is: In the airport bathroom, the guy at the urinal next to me was looking at me the whole time. When I looked back, he pretended he wasn’t staring.
- Farting, burping, and spitting in public places is normal: My favorite was the guy who hawked a big one on the floor in the airport. He proceeded to stomp it out like it was a cigarette. I guess spitting indoors is cool if you’re the first person to step in it yourself?
- Unless single file line is explicitly stated and universally followed, its a free-for all: When my flight was cancelled and tickets needed to be re-issued, getting to the ticket counter was like trying to get to the front of the stage at a punk concert. I’m not kidding when I say anything goes. People were throwing elbows, reaching over shoulders, and one guy was even gently ramming me from behind with a baggage cart.
- Everyone has clean/new shoes: I’m quite sure I have the dirtiest shoes in China.
- Assume nothing: I figured that when my airline ticket was re-issued because my flight was cancelled that my baggage would follow. This was not the case. My bag was just randomly dumped in the over-sized baggage area.
- Locals will assume they understood you even when they haven’t and give you direction based on their assumptions: Me and my ‘mate’ ran circles around the airport trying to find out which ticket counter would re-issue our tickets.
- The lines on the road mean nothing, and side walks are not just for pedestrians: I noticed several cars & mopeds driving against traffic in the far right lane. Also, I went for a walk in the morning and was almost run-over by several mopeds buzzing down the sidewalk to avoid traffic.
- Food cooks on the table: Most meals seem to be served almost done, and the still boiling pot is placed on the table (sometimes on a stove in the table) to cook a bit more before you eat.
Luckily, I’m a good sport and none of these things really bother me (FYI: the guy in the bathroom’s eyes were gazing above my shoulders). I’m now about 72 hours into my trip, and believe me, that’s just the beginning of things I’ve learned.