China 101

maoOk, enough about my democratic homeland, let’s return to a country that has never been a democracy: the People’s Republic of China!

1. Gender Equality

You have to give credit to the Communists for the gender equality in China. Especially when you look at China’s tradition of treating women as good for producing sons and not much else. These days girls are generally valued as much as boys (at least in urban areas). But one of the most striking aspects of this equality is how many women do manual labor. Chinese women are hard core! They work in construction, they do backbreaking work in the fields, I even came across women-only chain gang carrying ridiculously heavy stones up several flights of stairs.


2. Traffic

I would describe traffic in China as “ordered chaos.” In Kunming they had big wide straight boulevards with bus lanes, car lanes and even motorcycle and bike lanes. But having designated lanes doesn’t mean the appropriate vehicles are in the appropriate lanes. Motorcycles seem to consider themselves both cars and pedestrians, depending on whatever is most advantageous at the moment. And most of the motorcycles are electric so there’s no sound to warn you when they nearly run you over as your walking on the sidewalk. But what empresses me most was the bicycles. Many have a cart attached and the amount of things they haul is unreal, especially the one who carry styrofoam.

squatty potty3. The Squatty Potty

The squatty potty is the toilet of China. All squatty potties consist of a hole in the floor which you squat over to do your business. Some varieties have porcelain and flush, others are more like a concrete trough. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of these WCs…. No, it’s not the squatting I have a problem with – I squat over all public toilets, even those with seats. The problem arises because the waste is kept in a huge cesspool under the open hole, and so, as you can imagine it gives off a less than pleasant aroma. In addition, many public toilets have no stall doors and even when they do have doors, many Chinese don’t bother locking them which can create some embarrassment when searching for a free toilet. Which brings us to our next topic…


4. Potty Training

No need to worry about changing dirty nappies here! The Chinese are the ingenious designers of crotchless trousers so that whenever little Li needs to poo or wee, he just pops a squat and goes for it. (Yes toddlers will do this out on the street.)

5. Squatting

To the Chinese, to floor is dirty so they would never think of sitting on it, even inside. So if they are waiting around and there’s no chairs, they squat. Even little kids squat. I actually find it quite comfy but it takes a bit of getting used to.

6. Spitting

You already learned in my earlier entry that Chinese spit in the street regularly but the good news is they make a hideously loud throat-clearing noise before they shoot which warns anyone nearby of the approaching projectile.

800px-flag_of_the_peoples_republic_of_chinasvg7. Privacy & Personal Space

There isn’t even a word in the Chinese language for “privacy.” Living in a country of 1.3 billion doesn’t usually grant you that luxury. Dan and I were once looking at the photos on our camera on the bus when the elderly man sitting next to us eagerly started looking over our shoulder for a good look. So we just decided to tilt the camera his way so he could also enjoy the slideshow. I was once on a bus where a woman was holding a complete stranger’s child on here lap and then the elderly woman sitting next to them started picking through the little boys hair. If a stranger said they’d hold your child on their lap in the West, there’d probably be a lawsuit.

8. Umbrellas

There are your constant companion in China – come rain or shine. In rain they keep you dry, in the sun they keep you cool.

9. V for Victory

A must for any Chinese when photographed. Even this little girl is learning how to properly pose with a little help.


10. English Names

Many Chinese take on an English name as well. Some of the best: Banana, Foggy, Orange Juice and Lovey.


3 thoughts on “China 101

  1. This whole natural pooping/weeing thing is catching on you know – I watched a program about mums and moms who didn’t diaper/nappy their children because they ‘instinctively’ knew when junior would deliver and so carry appropriate vestibules for the delightful occasions – now that’s ‘bonding’.

    How are your thigh muscles, guys – I bet they got some serious exercise on this haul – Dan – you’ll be able to run at the speed of light now.

    Glad you’re back safe and well
    God bless
    Cousin Rach at Re vis.e Re form

    • There’s plenty of evidence to back up my claims. Here’s an article in PBS and another from the BBC that mentions some specific rights Chinese women gained after the 1949 Communist Revolution.

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