Me and Chairman Mao
Not “finally” as in I am finally updating my blog, although for those of you--and by those I mean all--who have been visiting my blog every hour on the hour (you’ve all been doing that, right) I’m sure this update will be an occasion for great rejoicing, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Beatles landed at JFK, V-E Day, the birth of Christ, and events of that nature. No, I mean finally--that last sentence was so long, you forgot what I was talking about, didn’t you?--as in I finally feel better. So much better, in fact, I can write this blog entry.

Yes, I have been sick. Ill. Unwell. I will spare you the unpleasant details, but it was, details or no, very unpleasant. (Does that even make sense? I may still be feverish.) Honestly, I’m surprised that my soft, untested American immune system stood up for as long as it did here. You see, China is just a wee bit dirtier than the US. (I have recently learned that five of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in China.) For example, did you know that approximately one-third of the coal in the world is used in China? Well, it is. And they aren’t using it for … I can’t actually think of any good use for it, so just forget about this part of the sentence. Anyway, they are using if for heat, which--as you might imagine--doesn’t really help the air quality. And not just out in the country either, but in the big cities as well. Sometimes I will be walking down the street and see someone peddle by with a whole load of coal briquettes on the back of their bike. Really.

As a consequence, I will occasionally look up Beijing on Yahoo! Weather and see that the forecast is for 50 degrees and smoky. Yes, smoky. Not overcast, not foggy, not rainy, not cloudy: smoky. Instead of having a picture of clouds or rain or fog, it shows a black sort of haze and proclaims, in ominous letters, “SMOKE.” How that’s a forecast I don’t know, but it just can’t be good for the respiratory system, can it? On a related note, China also consumes a third of the world’s cigarettes. Yes, if my lungs have a happy place--which I’m not saying they do--it’s definitely not Beijing. (On a totally random note, China also consumes over half the pork in the world, which is not related to anything else I wrote but I think it’s interesting so I’m just throwing it out there.)

I have managed to snag the Yahoo! weather graphic for SMOKE, that most
charming of Beijing forcasts, for you doubters. Here it is:

sky: smoky

But wait, it gets worse. (Cue dramatic music.) At least, as far as your immune system is concerned. Besides the general lack of air quality, there are two other things that will not help you stay well. First, people spit everywhere. Yes, everywhere. Like yesterday I was walking up the stairs to my friendly neighborhood McDonald’s (all decked out, oddly enough, for Christmas) and someone just decided to cough up a huge ball of phlegm--“hock a loogie,” in the colloquial, I believe--and then deposit it on the steps. The kicker? I didn’t think twice about this because everyone here does it--boys, girls, men, women, grandpas, grandmas. Everyone. Normally they do it on the street, but apparently nowhere--not even McDonald’s, that bastion of healthy American cuisine--is sacred. Ye gods.

So then, what is the other thing? (I did say two things--go back and read the last paragraph if you don’t believe me.) I’m glad you asked. It is, in fact, known--again, colloquially--as the “Farmer Blow.” If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, here’s how you do it: first, put a finger up against your nostril--either one, it’s up to you; second, press down very hard so that you , in effect, seal off that nostril; three, blow your nose with as much force as possible; and four, enjoy! I would recommend you do this when you are both outside and completely alone, since it is not something that will win you friends or help you influence people. (At least, not in a positive way.) Unless, of course, you are here in Beijing--then feel free to do it as often as you’d like. And if it doesn’t work the first time, go ahead and try it three, four, or even more times! The guy I walked by last week on the way back from the store had no problem with it. I think he tried five times before he was satisfied, although to my untrained eye it seemed like only the first one or two attempts really produced any tangible results.

Anyway, you get the idea. But then again, I seemed to have a stomach thing going on, so maybe it was just something I ate …

Traveling Man. Tonight we are going to Shanghai--the Paris of the East, the Whore of the Orient--for eight days. For the record, I have already decided to go with the “Paris of the East” designation, only because, after coming back from a long day of work, I don’t know how Holly would react to me going on and on about how much I love the “Whore of the Orient.” Just a thought I had.

I am excited, though. If Beijing is Washington DC (seat of government, lots of monuments, and so on), Shanghai is New York, with the culture, the fashion, the art, the nightlife, and everything else. (From what I’ve been told, Hong Kong has no US-based equivalent--apparently it makes New York look like a nice little town, maybe a suburb or something.) The first night (AKA tonight), we are staying in the Peace Hotel, which--back in the glory days of Shanghai in the Twenties and Thirties--was known as the Cathay, and was one of the most famous hotels in the world. It’s an old art deco building and, apparently, has a famous jazz band, some of whom have been playing there since before 1949. (For those of you lacking in Chinese history--most to all of you, I’d guess--that’s the year Mao proclaimed the glorious People’s Republic.) We are hoping to go see them tonight.

The rest of the time, we are staying at the
Westin Shanghai, which should be nice for a bunch of non-historic reasons. Mostly the heavenly beds and the rainforest shower heads. And yes, I only put a link in because I expect you all to click on it and be very, very jealous of me. I’m just small and petty that way. Thanks in advance for looking!

Pictures. I’ve finally--there’s that word again--put up some pictures from the Mutianyu Great Wall, if any of you are interested. The Great Wall is very strange. I mean, it’s very cool to go to and is worth seeing, but--when you get down to it--it’s a wall. A really, really long wall. Despite this, you want to take lots of pictures of it (it’s the freaking Great Wall, after all), but when you come home, you realize you have like fifty pictures of--say it with me--a wall. It’s also strange because there’s not really anything to do there. By that, I mean--once you arrive--there’s no where to go, no other sites to see. You get on the Wall, you walk a little ways down in one direction, and then you turn around and walk back to where you came from. That’s it. You can keep walking, but the view never changes: there’s always one more tower ahead of you, a bunch of hills, and the Wall itself stretching off into the distance in both directions for as far as you can see.

Well, the Wall and the nonirrigated farmland sled …

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
most recent
'Tis the season.
Team America.
You got served.
Do you have ten-pound balls?
Oh, crap!
Say cheese // Errata.
Seasonal housing.
Room for cream?

most popular
Tyger, tyger. [Feeding the Tigers (!) Pictures]
Picture This 4. [Public Urination]
Angkor what? [Angkor Temple Pictures]
Giving a hoot. [Shanghai Hooters Pictures]
Franken-food. [Chinese Nanotech Shrimp Pictures]
Ice, ice baby. [Harbin Ice Festival Pictures]
Of snow sculptures and such. [Harbin Snow Festival Pictures]
Tokyo-a-go-go. [Harajuku Pictures]
Staring contest. [Staring at Foreigners]
Room for cream? [Forbidden City Starbucks]

more reading
Me and Chairman Mao: The Book [The funniest book about living in China ever]

Things to Know About the 'Jing [My Beijing Guide]

monthly archives

more options
site feed: ATOM | RSS [feedburner]
updates via email [my explanation]

Powered by FeedBlitz

Powered by Blogger
Track your stats for free
China Excursions China Blog List
Expatriate Blogs

Tipping Monkey - Monkey Business for the Stock Market
Tipping Monkey
monkey business
for the stock market