Why China is Weird, Part 1 of ?

I have a few little anecdotes that I’ve been saving, and now seems as good a time as any to let them out into the world. I’ve dubbed this the “Why China is Weird” post, and I have a feeling there will be more of them to come. I also have to give credit where credit is due; the title comes from a conversation I had with a friend who lives in Hong Kong, who, upon hearing that there are palm trees lining the streets in Shenzhen, said, “Shenzhen is weird.” I’m taking that, embracing it, and rolling with it. So here are some reasons why China, and specifically Shenzhen, is weird.

1. Public Restrooms. For those of you who’ve never lived in Asia, the squat toilet is probably not part of your lexicon. These infamous holes in the ground can be treacherous. The best method of navigation is to completely remove your trousers and hang them on the hook on the wall whilst teetering in your high heels and trying not to drop said trousers or any other valuable items into the pit. Then you maneuver yourself over the yawning abyss and fret about poor aim, trying desperately not to pee in or on your shoes. If you were smart enough to remember to bring tissue in with you, you breathe a sigh of relief, and then regret it because you realize that the garbage can behind you is a receptacle for that used tissue.  (If you didn’t remember tissue, you squat there awkwardly for a few minutes, then hop up and down a bit to shake it off before shrugging to yourself and pulling up your panties. Let it now be said that we went to quite extraordinary lengths not to ever, ever have to do anything but pee in these toilets.)  I remember them well from Japan, and I gotta say, you get used to them, but you never really like them any better. Especially on a train. Adding motion and rocking to this whole exercise just elevates it to a whole other level.

2. Speaking of bathroom practices, kids here don’t wear diapers. Most often they wear little pyjamas with either a flap in the back or a full split down the middle, back to front, and mom or dad holds them over the side of the curb when they need to pee. Also definitely saw a dad holding his kid over a garbage can a couple of times. Awesome.

3. Bus TV. All the newer buses in Shenzhen have televisions which show a combination of Chinese news, and America’s Funniest Home Videos.  On my way home tonight, I watched a snippet of China News about Shenzhen’s 30th anniversary celebrations, followed by a video of a squirrel crawling into a towheaded youth’s trousers. Odd.

4. The “China Maybe.” This has become a part of our group lexicon, and so far it has not stopped being funny. You will hear Chinese people (especially at the schools) say, “Maybe… you will come to dinner tomorrow night with the headmaster” or “Maybe… I will collect your passport at 6 am and we will go to the police station” and, magically, that “maybe…” is somehow transformed into a “definitely will happen, no questions asked.” Like I said, our coping mechanism is to have adopted it as a huge joke into our group’s vocabulary, and maybe we overuse it just a tad. “Maybe… you will get out your bottle opener and open this beer, woman!”

That’s what I’ve got for right now. Later, I’m sure, I will come back and post about chicken feet in vending machines and other such delicious China delights. For right now, enjoy the bathroom humor. Because we certainly do.


Posted on August 24, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Why do I have the feeling that the “China Maybe” is going to end up a core element in the coven’s vocabulary?

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