“Someone call an ambulance, I’ve overdosed on St. Johns Wort!”
Yes, you read that correctly, today I am gurning with positivity (hence the title), and in today’s post, I will be injecting my top five things I like about China, directly into your veins.
“Top 5 Things I Like About China”, note that I’m using the word ‘like’, as opposed to the overly, and incorrectly used word of ‘Love’. I’m not using the word ‘love’, because I can’t actually, physically, nor mentally be in, or love romantically, ‘things’ about China. Although, if I were an objectophile, I then very well could potentially be in love with or have relations with the following list. Though, of course, I am not, I just simply have a healthy liking towards the following things and nothing more.
I had planned for the more ‘fashionable’ ‘Top 10’ style of list, but I couldn’t think of ten things. I suppose if you held a knife to my throat, I could squirm out an additional few things that I liked about China, before contemplating harshly and saying, “it’ll be easier to kill me”. I am sure that there is a great deal many more boxes I should be ticking on today’s list, but the following nominees are what come to mind when thinking, “what five things do I like about China?”
“Why change your tune, Lee?”, might you ask, well, albeit there’s a lot to dislike about living, or even visiting China, there’s also room for liking. Of course, I will be delivering you my positive list of likes, in a form of juxtaposed sarcasm and sincerity. I must also point out, for legal reasons, I am not being endorsed by sponsors to make this list.
Yes, I have previously compared Chinese weather to a thick polluted yoghurt, but from a storm enthusiasts point of view, it’s bloody exciting. Disregard the breathlessness you’ll experience when visiting China from all the haze and fumes, instead, focus on the incredible skyline when a storm’s brewing. Weather in China can look post-apocalyptic, as the weather boils together with the ingredients of greedy consumerism, i.e. China’s factory pollution.
If, like me, you enjoy spectating the spectacle of mother nature from behind the safety of a window, though with it open a jar because you like the risk, then look no further! In China, the windows of your apartment are so thin and badly hinged, that if there is a storm, you’ll most likely suffer an injury from the glass shattering in your face (the fear of death is tantalising)
Speaking more specifically of the South of China, the climate is regarded as ‘subtropical’, and with that, comes typhoons and freak humid weather. One particular enigmatic indulgence of mine was to walk at night without an umbrella to the metro, after a laborious irksome day at work. I would walk unmindfully, passing the many hundreds of people taking shelter under blinkering neon signs and largely printed newspapers.
It was as if I were living a fantasy as a bounty, walking through a dystopian cyberpunk city, as everyone ran to the side afeard, ogling me from behind the safety of window slats and broken buildings. I’d play the smooth sound of Scott Hamilton’s, ‘Stardust’, over the sonance of sirens, rain, and the buzz and hum of lights, creating a world worth imagining myself in, as an attempt to be someplace else.
When a typhoon would hit my city of residence, the sky would be cast into a darkness that was terrifyingly similar in feeling, as an apocalypse, and in all seriousness, the sounds that accompanied it, made my heart skip a beat.
Just to clarify, I liked all of the above.
To quote a friend of mine who lives in China:
“The metros and buses run frequently and make it incredibly easy to travel around. There are again some downsides. Public transport is very often overcrowded, and it seems to stop its services incredibly early. But again, another positive, it’s cheap!”
The metro truly is a chaotic underground fighting pit, so, don’t be surprised when you’re pushed and squeezed into the smallest of spaces. Though, as this is ‘things I like’, I will add this, China’s metro can whizz you about the city so effectively, it’s like a borrowing ferret darting around your large intestines. I cannot say without lying that I like using Chinese public transportation, but what I can say truthfully, is, it’s immensely cheap and immensely frequent.
There is nothing more useless than public transportation in the U.K, well, in England anyway. With consistent delays, huge and surely unjustified steep ticket prices, it’s because of this that I see Chinese transportation in a better light.
To illustrate pricing in China for using the underground metro, you can go from one stop to the next, for about 20p, and if you commute for over an hour on the metro, you’re looking at about 80p! Think to yourself now what you can buy of value that is 20p! Not even a fu*king pick ‘a’ mix!
The buses are even cheaper, a Chinese bus may not be subject to any time schedule, meaning it just turns up whenever, but that, ‘whenever’ time frame is more frequent and more reliable than any English bus timetable. To use a Chinese bus, all you need is your metro card, scan it and it’ll cost you 20p for any distance, be it a ten-minute drive or an hour, it’s a fixed price of 20p! (In Beijing, it’s even cheaper)
To put that into perspective, when commuting for thirty minutes on a bus in England, I would pay nearly twenty-five times more than what I’d pay in China. Twenty-five times more… for what?! I’d rather pay twenty-five times less, and sit next to a man smoking, whilst he picks his nose, and a woman behind me throws up in a plastic bag, capiche?
Yes, okay, sometimes China can be really inefficient, like going to the bank for example. In the United Kingdom, I can walk into a bank, and on a busy day, stand in a queue for no more than five minutes, and before you know it, my money is deposited and I’ve paid back my loan sharks. In China, you have to take a ticket and wait, with enough time to go for lunch (literally), and all though there are hundreds of people waiting, only one booth will be open.
Albeit, let me tell you about the spectacle that is a ‘Chinese marketplace’. Let’s say, for example, that you want to get yourself a pet kitten, now, in the U.K, where do you go? A shop? What if that shop doesn’t have the kitten you want? Then you have to drive to another shop, but what if you don’t drive? Then you just look like a sad, crying hitchhiker, with your thumb stuck out, holding a sign that reads, ‘trying to buy pussy’.
Wouldn’t it be great then, if there was an entire outdoor market, consisting of hundreds and hundreds of sellers, all selling the same genre of an item? Of course, the pet market is horrific and truly illegal by western standards, but it did set up the ‘hitchhiker’ joke nicely.
Instead, let’s say you want to buy tools, or plants… or tall plants… then look no further, if you’re wanting a specific item, you can visit an entire marketplace dedicated to that one very precise item. It’s odd, but in a positive way, like how it’s good that prisoners are all locked up together, we know where they are if we ever need them.
Another example of convenience is delivery, no, no, I don’t mean the postman, no, he’s a real sh*t, I’m talking about food delivery. Before I offer up another exhausting positive, let me first share with you something that not even my overdose can conceal. In China, if you order a parcel off the internet, yes you can get it the same day, but, it’s the manner in which you receive it that really grinds my gears. The delivery guy will call you and shout down the phone:
“Oi, I’m down the street from your house, get your parcel”.
They will empty their little, battery-powered, parcel dumper truck onto the path (sidewalk), and everyone’s parcels will be scattered into the road, lying in spit and piss (no exaggeration). If you don’t collect your parcel (because of course, it’s your job, apparently), the delivery guy will angrily bang on your front door, shouting, “oi, oi, oi”, and then either throw it into your chest when you open the door, or leave it someplace outside signed for by you (they’ll forge your signature).
Anyway, what was I saying, something positive, oh, of course, food delivery! Yeah, so in China, you can have McDonald’s delivered to your door. That’s it, that rant just now has angered me too much to expand anymore, fu*king delivery guys ruining my list!
2. Financial Lifestyle.
Best said by Wallace:
“You might make more money back home in the U.K, but the lifestyle you can live here [China], even by spending a little amount of money, is amazing. I can easily save £500-£600 a month without even trying.”
What Wallace says here is, without doubt, spot on. Without trying to save, you will have more money than you can spend, this, of course, applies to a westerner living in China on a westerner’s wage. Even earning a mere £1000 per month is enough to get you your own two/three-bedroom apartment, with balcony and full furnishings, and you’d still have enough to eat out for lunch and dinner every day.
In the U.K, some people can live so tightly, they piss into bathroom sinks to avoid flushing the toilet, in an attempt to keep down water bills (do you recognize yourselves?). I can say confidently, that I, did not need to piss into sinks when living in China, as a utility bills expense was as damaging to my wallet, as a cat caught under a Chinese car, I didn’t even notice it.
Yes, I believe that you can measure societies level of poverty, by the piss coloured stains in their sinks. The overwhelming number of charges when living in the U.K is like a man catching a cold when he already has aids, it’s just one more problem to add to the already devastating condition that is your life.
In China then, if you want to live like a king amongst people who do not respect you, then China’s the place to be. In all seriousness, for someone like myself who struggled to get a foot up in life when living in England, I found that working in China allowed me financial breathing space to save, and earn some credibility from my accountant.
The cost of eating, travelling and of course, consumer goods, are all categorically cheaper than what you’re used to (depending on where you are from). Within the first six months of living in China, I had accumulated more money than I had ever had in my entire life. I was like a fat magpie, bloated from my stash, and for the first time in my life, I could live without restrictions and care for budgeting.
I must point out though, transferring money out of China via bank transfers, is not so simple. The Chinese government do not like foreigners, or even Chinese citizens sending money out of the country, so there are restrictions per person as to how much and how frequent you can do so. If you are wanting to send money home, just wait until you’re heading that way yourself and take it with you on your person.
Before I reveal number 1, did I mention how super cheap you can now find flights to China?! Call ‘sitdownandshutup’, to book a luxury four-day flight direct to China, with only an easy fourteen stops along the way. Booking fees apply. seats are not guaranteed. safety is not guaranteed. loss of personal items guaranteed. passengers risk rabies and possible immediate death. Terms and conditions apply, if necessary.
No, I’m only kidding. As stated previously, I don’t do endorsements. It’s all truth on Clueless in Asia. (Unless of course, someone is willing to pay, then I’ll sell out immediately, no worries.)
“What’re you saying, Lee?”, Yes, number one goes to people. Now, I don’t mean those nasty fu*kers who tie rats to handrails, and nor do I mean the thousands of people who I’ve seen, pissing, puking, pooing, and punching in the street.
I’m talking about the real, genuine, and honest people who I have met in China. This winning entry leads me to criticize my own country, the United Kingdom, as I sit here recalling morons and benefit cheats, who sit on their arses complaining how hard they have it. Well, let me tell you about someone who I think, should make you feel ashamed of yourselves.
My wife’s ‘Tai Pol’, or ‘great-grandmother’, is an elderly woman of the grand old age of 98, who lives in a cell, literally, a single room no larger than 4 metres by 4 metres that she calls home. She is not in prison, although it compares to one, her home is, in fact, one room no bigger than a cleaning cupboard (and I’m not taking the piss). There is no heating, no shower, no kitchen, and no toilet.
Perched in her chair, she sits from dawn to dusk, smiling and optimistic, watching her box television. This is a woman who grew up in such dire poverty, that some of you lot, sat at home with your multi-pack of Quavers, iPhones and heaters, all paid for by benefits, would know nothing about. I’ve met people who live in the most secluded, desolate, dank homes that I have ever seen, and you know what’s inside? Happiness, optimism, and family values. Just because their life seems bleak, they don’t turn to drugs and depend on others to feed them, like so many people do.
If they don’t work, they don’t eat, if they don’t eat… they die.
The benefits system in the U.K is a good idea, in fact, one that when explaining to Chinese people, is met with absolute amazement. It helps people who are in dire need, genuine people, single mothers and people with disabilities, but unfortunately, it is taken advantage of by indolent, idiotic, slimy bum pirate dullards.
Clueless in Asia would never have happened if the people around me weren’t there to support me. I have befriended some of the best people I have ever known during my time in China, and I wouldn’t refund nor exchange them for anything (I’m always losing receipts). Without them, I would have turned back to England in chapter 4.
It’s because of these people, that I not only survived, but thrived in China, and it’s here that I offer my biggest tip of all, to anyone wanting to live in China.
Build relationships with others, and the support network necessary to thrive in China will go hand in hand.
Next Thursday’s post will be my ninth, and like a Nickelodeon special, I will take Clueless in Asia on the road, by giving you a tour around the streets of China.
To sum up, I’ll leave you in the hands of a friend of mine who has lived in China for over four years:
“My final favourite thing about living in China would just be the difference I experience here every day compared to the west. The lifestyle, culture and day to day are so different. Yes, you see appalling things that make you want to throw up, but the experience of seeing it, I think makes you a better, stronger person. Also, the day to day of work and the crazy experiences can sometimes make you extremely mad, but upon reflection are seen as just a complete joke. Living in China can be hard sometimes, but it’s a different new challenge every day, which I feel is exciting. There’s never a dull moment, and there’s always something to see or look at, no matter how disgusting it is.”
If you haven’t already, please subscribe via WordPress or email to ensure you don’t miss out on my upcoming posts, and so I don’t cry myself into a KFC bucket or self-harm through feeling unappreciated. Do prepare yourselves for next Thursday, until then, “Zài jiàn hún dàn”