Around Easter, I traveled for the first time in China (not Hong Kong), in the countryside and elsewhere outside the big cities. The journey was “different” in many ways – in an ever-harmonizing (and at the same time becoming a little more boring) world, China is still an exception: it is a country of its own, where you can be amazed at everything.
Among other things, I made the following miscellaneous observations:
1. While dining in a restaurant, a restaurateur can sit down at an adjacent table and begin cutting his toenails. The Chinese are not necessarily a very tactful, polite and considerate gang.
2. The restaurant menu may look more like an elementary school biology book than a restaurant menu. It may contain images of live animals in their natural habitat. There are frogs, snakes and turtles, deer and small rodents, and a variety of birds from poodles to geese. When you read it, your appetite grows!
3. If you don’t know China, communicating with locals can be a mere sign. The numbers are still awkward. For example, the number six is displayed by raising the thumb and thumb and putting the other fingers closed. Crossed forefingers mean ten.
4. Google does not operate in China. So no googlemaps, no Gmail, and nothing to google. Neither facea, insta nor whatsapp. It’s really startling to see how much they normally use and need when they suddenly can’t be used.
5. In the middle of a busy street, or anywhere, you may encounter a man or men who suddenly lift a shirt under their armpits, exposing their bare belly. They are hot.
6. There are no temples! One might imagine that the whole of China is full of great shrines, they are the bottlenecks in the Chinese parts of the world. On a 10-day tour, I couldn’t find more than a couple of temples in use – although I was looking hard. Others had either been destroyed or put to other uses, though.
7. Just when you thought you’d find something safe and “safe” to eat on a restaurant’s menu – a fruit salad – you’ll get it in front of it glazed with plenty of mayonnaise.
8. Tourism is as different as we are. The groups running in clusters are hundreds, and everyone does and works in the same way. In many scenically stunning locations, the focus is by no means on the landscapes, but on portraying oneself in traditional formal wear – renting them is a big business.
9. You never really know what to expect and what to come. Indeed, a place characterized as a small town is home to five million people. A place you’ve never heard of might turn out to be absolutely insane, incredibly stunning – a world-class attraction.
10. Feels like a star. Someone is staring all the time. You will be monitored and photographed, with permission or in secret, most of the time up close and with complete shame. If you sit at a restaurant’s window table, a crowd of fans will gather behind the window. Of course, you can also get involved in many local family portraits.
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