Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In the land of the Sleeping Squammy Giant..

Beijing is one of the most heavily toured cities in China, yet many don’t realize that amidst the hustle and bustle of the city lies one of the greatest cultural and historical sites in the world. Here are some things we've seen in our recent trip to Beijing  which show how squammy their country is hehe :P

Bicycle City
Beijing  probably still has more bicycles in general daily use than any city in the world.  However, this is changing rapidly. 

Beijing people think nothing of riding for an hour and a half to work each day and all around you can notice huge parking lots just for bikes.  As appose to most places in the world Beijing people actually have to pay to park their bike in these lots. Di ba matipid sila?

Pants slit
If you're lucky, or unlucky, depending on how you look at it, you will notice certain children wandering the streets of Beijing with a slit of varying sizes in the back of their pants. 
Ang orig na taong LABAS
At first, you probably think its some really poor child who's trousers have come apart and the seams and whose family are too poor to fix them.  Actually these pants with the built-in slit can be bought new from the store. The reason is due to the age-old custom/practice of being able to stop at will and take a bathroom break, kind of like a dog would do on the street.  This practice is still widely evident but as the city continues modernization, the government pleads with the public to be ever more polite and civilized using advertising campaigns.  

Apartment living
One of the first things you will probably notice when visiting Beijing is the abundance of large house blocks within the city center and beyond.  These places look as if they were constructed in the 1970's and are home to the majority of Beijing residents.  Most are not built to good standard and look like drab and dirty places from the outside. 

Squat toilet

This kind of toilet is still in abundance in Beijing and there is no sign of it going away very quickly.  This is partly due to  some Beijing/Chinese people thinking that it is more hygienic than a western-style "sit down" toilet.  The theory goes that if your naked flesh is in contact with something that other people's naked flesh has also come into contact with, you could catch some disease.  Well, their may indeed be a shred of truth in that.  The other truth, however, is that with a western-style toilet, a lot more of a person's "output" has more of a chance of hitting the "target".  This being the case, squat toilet's surroundings are often both wet and dirty, which is not great for your trousers or anything you may want to place on the floor whilst you "work". 
The toilet pictured is one of the best and cleanest  squat-style toilets to be seen in Beijing.  If you're really unlucky, you can catch really terrible examples. 

Unless you're insanely curious.  I would recommend you give this style of toilet a miss.  It requires a great amount of effort and leg muscle to use.  Hold it till you get back to your hotel!

One of the more amusing things to be seen in Beijing, at least for most ivsitors, is to see Beijing residents happily sleeping whenever they get a chance.  One of the more popular places if there is no bed available is at the lunch / dinner table / work desk.
Sweet Dreams
This habit is formed and encouraged in early school years where pupils are told to rest for an hour or so in their lunch break.  However, Beijing residents as they got older seemed reluctant to let this habit go.  As a result its now perfectly socially acceptable to sleep wherever you want. Look for this site in quiet restaurants at lunch time, breakfast, or late evening.

Crazy English
Unfortunately I am not referring to the popular Chinese book and TV series about learning spoken English.  I am talking about the many, many examples of incorrect English words and phrases printed around Beijing.  
These sights are for me,  "the Real Beijing"  experience which redefine my impressions of the country and sometimes China in general. See how many you can see on your future visit :)

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