After 4 days of Visa nonsense in Nanning trying to secure an entry into Vietnam, I’m finally on my way. Yesterday was probably the worst day, trekking through the city to find a train ticket only to find they were sold out, and then finding a bus to take me. I’m sitting in the bus terminal now with sweat dripping off my face and arms into a pool at my feet. It has gotten considerably hotter as I’ve worked my way south and I sense it is only going to get worse as I head to Vietnam. I have a lovely 9 hour bus ride ahead of me, most likely in a questionably equipped bus, with barely working A/C, hard and wiry seats and stinky Chinese men.
Anyway, here is my take on the good and bad of China.
1) The food. Good cheap food is everywhere. I had particular success in the street markets where nothing costs more than $3. They are a cheap and easy way to get absolutely stuffed for breakfast lunch and dinner.
2) The subways. They are quick, clean, and extremely cheap way to get around the city.
3) The people selling fruit along the streets. They are everywhere!
4) The ability to cross the streets whenever/however/wherever you want…No rules!
5) The train system. It’s actually very convenient for traveling around the country.
6) The people. They are actually quite friendly and very willing to help. Even if it only means a head nodding, finger pointing, body gestures and/or repeated “thank you”.
7) The scenery. The mountains, rivers and lakes are incredible! While very different from what we have in the states, they are at least equal or easily more impressive.
8) The prices. A bottle of water for $0.28 cents. A pack of Oreos for $1. A Big Mac meal for $3.50. A subway trip across the city $0.36. A 38 hour train ride across the country $38.
1) People hacking freaking loogies (phlegm from their throats) all day long! Ugh.
2) The smell! There seems to be a Chinese stank. Bathrooms, garbage, pollution, or rotten food, I have no idea what it actually is, but it seems to be everywhere!
3) The intense glare/stare of every single person walking down the street. Hello! American here!
4) The litter and garbage literally everywhere.
5) The INSANELY slow internet.
6) The incessant and constant honking 24 hours a day coming from scooters, cars, and buses. Honking here usually means “If you keep doing that I’ll hit you!” or, “Watch out, here I am!” They will honk the horn driving on the freeway when just passing a car in the adjacent lane. It still pisses me off after having heard it for 6 weeks! “I’m not going to move, go around me!”
7) Not being able to drink the water, ever! In Peru the water was bad as well, but we did drink it a couple of times anyway. I wouldn’t even think of drinking it in China. It comes out of the tap looking nasty, not to mention that parasite and grasshopper fight I saw.
8) The pollution. In some of the big cities I really haven’t ever seen the sun. I haven’t been able to take a deep breath of fresh air since I got here.
9) Stairs. They are freaking EVERYWHERE! I swear the Chinese know nothing about ramps, hiking trails, switchbacks or regular paths. I’ve climbed literally tens of thousands of stairs since I got here and if I see one more…