Sweeping the nation

Fall has arrived in Shanghai. Or rather, it has been below 20 degrees the past few weeks, a couple of times under 10 and generally around 15. Most importantly, the weather has turned the leaves a different color. Preferably yellow, but mostly brown. I just did a search to make sure I had not written about this yet. Leaves are a big deal in China, and larger parts of Asia (and according to an American I met, apparently also in some Western places). Meaning in this case that it is important enough to generate its own terms. Looking at them…

I feel pretty

It is actually quite funny how I am basically called out either as ‘hey beauty’ or ‘hey auntie’ on the Chinese streets here. In the Netherlands, we normally know that we are real adults once strangers start ‘Miss’ing’ you. “Dear Miss, you forgot this.” “Excuse me Miss, do you know the way?” “Miss, can I help you with something?” Here in China, I had sort of the same feeling when I somewhat transcended seamlessly from ‘sister’ to ‘auntie’. A change that I am still not too happy about. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the ‘hey beauty’ (or…

Well, it is only the rule so…

I sometimes think that the expression “Rules are meant to be broken” comes from China. Even though there are many ways in which people listen or accept things at face value, there is certainly a lot of room for opposition as well. Of course, this manifests in somewhat negative ways as well. Going off the beaten path in the mountains (although mother nature put this sign here urging you not to), shaking the trees for flowers or red leaves (ignoring another sign that says trees have feelings too) or simply squatting on the toilet seat (how do you do that…

Quiet, please!

So, I already mentioned China is not the most quiet place ever. Another train trip, which are the best way to submerge yourself in a full Chinese experience for several hours, confirmed this again in another way. I have talked in lengths already about being single in China and some expectations in general that we as societies seem to have about relationships. Moving past that, you obviously see many differences in child-rearing and education between countries. Something that amazes me all the time when I see Chinese kids, is in how much they are allowed to do and actually encouraged…

Travel makes the world go round

Since it was just the October Holidays, a slightly insane amount of people and money changed places. It is a time when everyone who can have a holiday goes somewhere to hang out with millions of others. These are the moments that you are reminded of and astonished by the scale of this country once more. Being a Dutch person, I of course was traveling as low budget as possible. And the good thing (for my wallet, not my back) is that seating places on trains are very cheap. The bad thing, besides your back hurting quite a lot, is…

I need to come clean

So, let us talk a bit about hygiene today. China is a very two-sided country to live in with regards to this. On the one hand, no one will put bags on the ground and restaurant staff will be quick to bring you something to put your bag in or on. Furthermore, once you drop something on the table it is deemed to be lost. Contaminated and poisoned for only the bravest to pick up. And of course food preparation itself is something that is under increased scrutiny these years, to make sure no mice, cockroaches or other foreign object…

Hush, hush, hush

Peace and quiet. Two things people definitely do not come to China for. The whole environment here is just plain noisy. From people to pets, from cars to cicadas there is always something happening and you can hear it. I live in a ‘traditional’ 6-story building in Shanghai and there is always some pipes making a noise, or the airco outside, or my neighbors getting up at 7 to dance to very loud music. In Shanghai, it is prohibited to honk for the greater part of the city center, but in Beijing that is definitely not the case. The symphony…