Having spent a fair 2 weeks in China, I can say that there were aspects I loved about the country, but aspects that I hated about it too.
I spent about 5 days in Beijing, and 7 days in Guangzhou. I had a good impression of Beijing, but then again, it was a sheltered trip to Beijing as I was with tour guides.
In Guangzhou, I stayed in a hotel, and visited family members, as well as did some free roaming about the city.
Things that wowed me about the city:
- The variety of food.
- The language.
The variety of food
In Guangzhou, restaurants are a plenty, and they’re cheap as well. Noodles, congee, bread, yumcha, all within walking distance of pretty much anywhere if you’re in the city. Did I mention that it’s cheap as well?
People spoke in mandarin or in cantonese. I understand the latter pretty well, but my mandarin is still a work in progress. I was amazed at the difference in being able to read basic road signs compared to 8 years ago, when I couldn’t recognize any characters at all. Naturally, I’d be inclined to take a keen interest in the language given my interest in learning it.
Things that I didn’t like about the city:
- The people
- The environment
- The society
My impression of the people, are that most are quite unfriendly, and some are insincere. Asking a shop owner (such as a computer retailer) where the closest CD/music shop was, would be answered with “I don’t know”. This was a common occurrence with all shop owners, especially when at the heart of the “electronics district”. Asking locals for directions was equally difficult. People would either say “I don’t know” or I would usually end up being pointed in the wrong direction.
In addition, people are selfish or lack any care to others. I once saw a woman carrying her baby on board the bus, and not one person offered her a seat. Now that’s got to be saying something about the peTople there.
People openly spat on the ground, and they smoked in the restaurants, despite the “smoking prohibited” signs. More than anything, it’s also a reflection on the management staff of the restaurants, who don’t want to risk offending customers, so they allow smokers to pollute the air, potentially making every other non-smoker a potential lung cancer patient.
Dirty. That’s what I can sum it up as. The streets are extremely dirty, the public toilets even worse. It’s almost as if there is no one cleaning those toilets, and the stench…. Oh it’s just painful!
Pollution was also another terrible thing. My throat would feel dry, and the air was unrefreshing. I’d hate to live in such a polluted place, breathing polluted air constantly.
People are focussed on money. One of my family friends told me how every restaurant manager learns to profile customers according to their wealth. Based on what clothes they wore, the meals ordered etc, the managers figure out who’s rich, and who’s not.
Health care is a shambles there, with hospitals requesting a standard batch of investigations (even if not indicated) as routine. Going to another hospital with x-ray films, the other hospital will order more x-rays, because they don’t believe the results of the previous hospital’s x-ray (and also so they can make more money on investigations).
Trying to cross the road is extremely hazardous, with people having to give way to cars on pedestrian crossings. And red light runners are a common site. Not to mention the “Random 3 point turn” – on a busy two way double laned street, a driver would suddenly decide to do a 3 point turn, no regards to how disruptive it can be to oncoming traffic.
The internet was broken as well. Google maps are blocked, and trying to find places to book “eg booking.com” were a nightmare, especially when you couldn’t see where on the map it is!
Noise pollution is a real thing, and because of how busy it is, there’s never a quiet moment through the day or night. Car horns go off constantly because the drivers are pretty inconsiderate, and bike bells ring. I found it got too much at times, and stress levels start building up as a result.
I’d love to visit again sometime with the hopes that things improve, although I also fear that things may get worse, especially if it’s something like the people and the society.