At this point I’ve lived in China for a little over seven months. Thankfully I was able to have a break from all of the craziness of China during the recent Spring Festival holiday break.
Okay, okay China is actually not all “crazy”. There are many, many, great things about China. In fact, my first experience with China was nothing short of magical!
However coming back it was harder to feel much of the same magic that I felt the first time around. This time it was so tough to leave my loved ones again. This time loved ones included things like fresh air and so many other Western comforts, like clean and quiet streets.
The thing about China is that it really is a beautiful place. It is full of unique landscapes and history. Sadly though, most Chinese cities and rural areas are extremely polluted.
Many of you may already be aware of the air pollution problem that China faces. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. The rivers and lakes are super trashed too.
There is an incredible amount of people that just litter anywhere. Chinese cities (at least all of the ones that I have been to) actually have trash cans everywhere but Chinese people don’t seem to realize their purpose. Even if there is a trash bin just feet away people will opt to just drop their trash right on the floor — or in the rivers or lakes.
This type of behavior makes it seem like Chinese people don’t care for their land, for preserving any natural environment.
The lack of care goes beyond how Chinese people treat their land. Not only is there an incredible amount of land and water pollution, noise pollution is a huge problem as well.
Fireworks go off day and night. Any day or night, without any warning. It simply doesn’t matter if it’s one am and most people are trying to go to sleep, or if it’s seven am and people are trying to stay asleep!
Fireworks blasting off throughout the day aren’t the only noises that permeate China. Car, moped, and bus horns are the music of the streets — except they are not pleasant to hear. Chinese vehicle horns are so jarring that you’ll soon end up with a headache, or just feeling completely annoyed and upset with the unpleasantness of the sound.
As if man-made things aren’t enough to clog up your ears, Chinese people are so loud! This is especially true when they talk on their phone. It’s really not the funnest thing to listen to others conversations — even if you don’t understand a word of what they are saying.
Alright. Okay. So it’s right about the time to do a disclosure now.
Of course not every person in China is this way, but these behaviors do seem to affect a great majority of the Chinese people. It is such a great amount of people that fall into this generalization that (as a foreign visitor) you absolutely cannot walk outside of your home or hotel, for even just fifteen minutes, without experiencing any of these things.
All in all the littering and noise pollution can be something tolerable. Fireworks don’t really last for too long (usually no more than an hour). The honking I’m sure that as annoying as it is has saved many lives. Finally the loud talking can easily be escaped by simply popping in some headphones. As for the littering there are actually people who’s sole job is to pick up the trash on the streets and sidewalks. So eventually most of the trash gets picked up.
Yes, most of those things can easily be tolerated with some awareness and lots of patience.What is not so easily tolerated are the following two things:
One, the loud hacking of throat gunk followed by spitting wherever it’s most convenient — so anywhere. Really, there are puddles of spit everywhere. Out on the streets on walkways, inside buildings, even busses!
The second thing that holds no boundaries — and is just as intolerable as the first — is the peeing and pooping in public. Throughout my time here I’ve only seen a handful of men openly pee on the walkways, and (so unfortunately) one pooping. Fortunately I haven’t seen more, but I’ve seen plenty of turds. Super gross, I know!
The thing is that these Chinese people that do this type of thing probably don’t know any better. From what I have witness they learn this behavior from early childhood.
I’ve seen tens, probably hundreds, of little children openly peeing and pooping on the sidewalks — even children old enough to hold it — with their parents right besides them holding them up to pee or poop if they aren’t old enough to do it themselves.
So, if you ever visit China and notice that people squat everywhere instead of sit on any floors, sidewalk, or steps it is because every inch of every walking surface is plastered with throat gunk, urine, or human waste.
But please only take this post as informational material and don’t let it deter you from ever visiting any Chinese city. As I mentioned earlier, the thing about China is that it really does have many great things to offer the foreign visitor. It actually is kind of a magical place. Just be aware of these things so that you are prepared to handle them when you do visit — and perhaps maybe don’t stay here for as long as I have.