China Curiosities

31 Aug

I’m back in London now, battling the jetlag beast, but there are a few more China topics I wanted to tackle, so I thought I’d lump them into another post.

First off, in Hangzhou we encountered a street cleaner that blasted the Happy Birthday song like an ice cream truck the entire time it cleaned. I don’t have much else to say about that, except that it made me laugh entirely way too hard and our Chinese companions probably thought I was loopy.

Topic #2: Our favorite hotel in Shanghai charges the equivalent of $8 for a glass of orange juice. It may cost more than their pancakes. As far as I know it’s not hand-squeezed by baby pandas or anything (oh, to witness that!), so I have no idea why it’s so expensive. Stephen even asked the front desk guy about it last time we were there. “Yeah, even I think that’s crazy,” he replied.

Normally when I’m in China I just drink bottled water, which is also ridiculously expensive if you don’t specify the brand and they bring you Voss. I always have to make a point of ordering it cold. The more I travel the world, the more something becomes clear — Americans are the only ones who like to drink really cold water. When you order a water at a restaurant in the US it usually comes with more ice than water. But in Europe or China you have to specifically order it with ice or cold, and even then it’s never that refreshingly cold. Most people in China only drink tea with meals, but if they do drink water they drink hot or lukewarm water. This boggles my American mind. It’s 40/100 degrees outside, why are you drinking hot water?! We were discussing this with one of Stephen’s friends in China who frequently visits the US. Her complaint? “No hot water to drink there!” Ha!

We went to a ramen restaurant in Shanghai and I told Stephen to order me water. After going back and forth with the waitress he told me they didn’t have any. They weren’t out of it, they just didn’t sell water. My sensitive only-likes-water-with-meals stomach couldn’t believe it, and so we were stuck with this artificial sickly-sugary mango juice. Back at the hotel I chugged an entire complimentary bottle of water. The hotel lobby bar also rips you off when you order water. I’m always tempted to ask for “one of those free bottles you leave in the room. And some ice.”

While we were waiting to board the plane to Shanghai in Munich, these people showed up at the gate:

We’re still unsure if they got married at the airport or on the plane (and why?!), but they did board the plane dressed like that. This prompted two questions — 1. How did she sit in that dress for 10 hours, and did the person sitting next to her hate her? and 2. (of course) — How did she use the toilet cubicle while wearing that dress?!

Speaking of toilet cubicles, we had the privilege of flying business class to and from China, thanks to Stephen’s high frequent flier status. Time after time I watched passengers from coach sneak into business class to use the toilets (which reminds me of a scene from “Bridesmaids.”) This Chinese boy crossed the class curtain to use the lavatory. I’m guessing he was around 12 years old. What puzzled me was that he had absolutely no idea how to open the door. I watched as he repeated pressed the green “vacant” sign to no avail, then started tapping random fixtures on the outside of the door. There was a giant “Push” sign on the middle of the door, but this poor kid is probably still learning “My name is ___, how are you?” in his English class. I shouldn’t have laughed at this kid’s misfortune, but it was so weird to see someone not be able to use an airplane bathroom — all airplanes, no matter what airline or country, have the same basic toilet cubicle doors. Perhaps this kid’s first flight ever was from Shanghai to Munich and I shouldn’t make fun of him. Who knows. Eventually the Chinese-speaking flight attendant found him and ushered him back to the coach toilets.

So that’s the last of my China posts (I think…) One of these days I will get around to writing about our Austria-Italy holiday.

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One Response to “China Curiosities”

  1. Marcelo Sousa September 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    Hello Renee
    I’m not surprised about your post related to China. I went China several times (in fact I’m in China now). The fact about cold drinks is what I cannot understand very well. Chinese people said that they drink hot drinks because cold drinks is not so good for stomach. I don’t know why… I’m brazilian and in Brazil we also like very cold drinks also. One time I was in a restaurant in Qingdao and I ask a beer (cold beer), but I was in a conference call and when I saw, the waitress give me a cup of ice to put the beer… hahaha…
    It’s cultural, and we cannot change… It’s China

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