Here’s just a bit of a rant about the things that have been annoying me while travelling around China. When you’re away from all your home comforts some things can seem so foreign and also so annoying.
I miss internet that functions correctly and at a reasonable speed. So many things are blocked on Chinese internet that a simple search on Google for Chinese travel destinations, or as I tried earlier ‘Chinese lucky cat’ can lead to every page you try for the next five minutes coming up as ‘page cannot be found’. Of course this is also the case of searching anything to do with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or anything with the word ‘blog’ in it. This makes me glad I chose WordPress and not Blogspot. The idea that witholding information on the internet will make a better society is bizarre and I’m beginning to thhink its all because the government is so scared about what would happen if people managed to talk enough to form a rebellion party as even a queue in a train station is nigh on a riot. Everywhere I’ve been the internet has functioned at a speed similar to dial up, which is pretty frustrating when you’re used to fibre optic 25mb.
We are realising every day the true impact of overpopulation. In China there are so many people that most of them have lost the respect for the fellow man in favour of the ‘every man for himself’ mentality. Attempting to book trains this morning was traumatic, there is no online booking and in the ‘small’ city I’m in at the moment the sleeper tickets only get released a few days before the journey as the priority has gone to start of the line and also to ticket agencies that pay the price plus commission to the rail company. At 8am when the tickets were available there is a huge rabble of people in the train station in a loose queue, everyone crowding around the desk and shouting at the ticket seller, who is understandably behind glass. Some people stroll in and push right to the front, often pushing women clean out the way as they don’t have the strength to push back adequately. People will get pissed off and security will be needed just to keep everyone in order. This in itself makes me a little bit disgusted at humanity. Also as this is how they treat other humans the way they treat animals is beyond upsetting.
I miss the idea of buying something to eat or drink and not having to be concerned about my health, whether it be in a restaurant or a sealed bottle of water you don’t really ever know what you’re getting. All hygiene and safety standards here are extremely low unless you pay an absolute premium which means it’s better to favour the really cheap, open kitchen/street kitchen over the mid-range which is aiming to look like a standard restaurant, because at least in the first you can see what’s going on with your food. With something as simple as bottled water there are constant news stories and controversies about unsafe levels of this or that chemical. The safest places to eat are international food chains like KFC and Pizza Hut because they are run by international standards.
Eating anything is a bit of a chore, the supermarkets are bizarre and nothing ever looks like what you expect it to be, you buy biscuits that are savoury and cured meat that is sweet. And of course unrefrigerated shrink wrapped chicken. In the bakery strange sausage roll buns are right next to something that definitely looks sweet but you can never trust your instincts. It’s so hard to find anything stodgy and fibrous and I’m quite sure brown bread does not exist. Nearly all bread tastes synthetic and really sweet. And there are some foods I would really like to eat right now, even something as simple as pasta, just something I know will digest properly. A Sunday roast, a non processed sausage, a pasty, some chocolate cake…
Ordering things in a restaurant is both a chore and a gamble, of course I can’t complain about lack of English but when you see a picture of something innocent looking and choose that only to find that it is almost pure bone and have no idea how to get the tiny bit of meat from it without chewing the bone, which I really can’t do. On top of this, if you manage to get an entire meal without something unbearably spicy then it’s quite a rarity. What I would give to have a desert that wasn’t ice cream or glutinous rice.
5.Equality and Education
In no way is there equality in China and the class divide is huge to the degree that you rarely see anyone that isn’t the equivalent of working class. The lack of openness in the country results in few white people travelling here and due to this many locals feel the need to stare you right in the face for minutes at a time. I didn’t believe this before I came, I foolishly thought anyone would realise it’s rude to stare and the other person will feel uncomfortable if you shout and point at them in the middle of the street. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me as I realise the people are curious and oblivious, but when I’ve been walking in 35 degree heat or on a disgusting train and someone who stinks feels the need to stand right in my face staring at me then I really just want to tell them to get lost and have had to resort to putting on a hat and sunglasses, which doesn’t stop them staring but at least I feel hidden. I just can’t comprehend how past this mentality Europe is and when it was ever ok to stare at someone for being different, and think it must have been at least 50 years. Another result of being white is that 90% of people are trying to rip you off telling you that you’re rich so you should pay more. It is so rare that you can go into anywhere and not have to argue over the price you pay and deal with all the extra stress. It’s so relieving when you get served by one of the few people who just charge you the going rate.
Anyone who thinks backpacking is a vacation should give it a go, I think it just as hard as working a 9-5 but with so many more unique problems. But of course you are having experiences all along the way. And tomorrow I’m going to climb a mountain.