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Honeymooners We travel, we see sights of awe. Home is where the heart is. My heart is with Briel.

From the lips of the locals-China!

CHINA | Monday, 6 October 2008 | Views [1613]

We met a few locals on our trip thru mainland China who were willing to talk candidly to us about their life and experiences in their home.  For the most part we talked to educated, interesting people - we had no opportunity to talk to the peasants, minority groups or ethnic groups of China.  So what we learned came from the lips of university graduates or school students or teachers.

Religion: We were told (don't really know how true this is) that most people in China have no religion in China.  They have had no ties to religion since the Cultural Revolution.  So on a moral ground many are lost, their priority on making money and doing great business.  They all had to have the little read Mao books - like their bible - which dictacted how they should live life.  It was at once glorifying peasant lifestyle of hard work in the fields, but in practice people were sent to the farmlands as punishment by the 'Party members'

However there is some buddists, taoists, Christian, Muslims within China.  We saw them, how much of a % - no clue.  I am sure you could look this up somewhere.  Of course in the temples you see MANY people worshipping, but apparently the percentage of people who really worship and believe is small compared to the total population.

FOOD:  The different provinces eat different things.  Sichuan for example is proud to have VERY spicy food and often smile happily when your face turns red at something they consider quite mild.  Very delicious food, but makes your face numb!  In Xi'an for example we saw mostly noodles and not rice as we they grow wheat nearby and no rice fields... while other provinces like rice more in the south.  The tibetian areas have pita like breads which they call Chinese Burgers which really looks more like a shoarma with meat and vegies - totally yummy.  Of course you have the tyipcal dumplings and steam buns, but even they differ in taste depending on the province.

What I can say is this - over the last how many  thousands of years they have tried to eat nearly everything in the country - well that is how it seems to me.  Apparently there is even a small percentage in Gangzhou that like to eat human babies.  I was shocked and even thought they were joking with me, but another local confirmed that in fact this can happen.  Although it is spoken of in hush hush tones. I still wonder if they are all having a joke at the dumb tourist that has no clue... perhaps and I hope so!

However ALL the locals we met ate nothing more unusual than chicken feet or odd animal parts.  Things like tapioka in tea, green tea everything like nuts or seeds, taro everything and many a mooncake floating around.

Education: We were told that people like to go to university to 'change their destiny', this is the ONLY way for peasants to be able to leave their peasant life to earn money in the cities.  Everyone studies the same things of economics or business, medicine and so the problem these days is that there are WAY too many graduates that have no job.  For every job position, there are thousands of applicants. So there is many a taxi driver who might have a medical degree.  So salaries stay much too low as people compete for job placement.  when you compare the living expenses, this seems a bit unfair.  However there was ways to live relatively cheap. So maybe this is not as bad as it seems to me.

Language: In modern times all students must learn English as well as PutongHua (manderin).  However a vast majority are still scared to try to really use what they learned.  So we had many an experience where people where shocked or scared that we spoke to them.  Few even just would walk away and refuse to look at us.  There was the rare and amazing few who did venture a conversation with us.  Excited that they could practice and learn a bit about the world.  They are still pretty excited at seeing tourists (outside the big cities) and we had many an occasion when Briel would get his photo taken.

Culture:  OUr friend said - we have a problem with creativity in China.  No one thinks for themself.  Most are not allowed to think for themself.  Everyone knows this is a problem, but nothing is being done to change it.  We saw this often unfortunately.  People are taught to stay within their comfort zone and will not think outside the box.  I was confused by this statement having just seen the most amazing Olympic games ceromony ever.  When I questioned him on this his reply was a little chuckle and "yes we Chinese were also surprised and delighted with this.  We didn't know we could do something this artistic and original"

Well for a communist country I guess this is normal.  We were told that ALL news is approved first by the government before printing and all tv stations are owned by the government.  So often journalists are bored of their jobs are they are just told what they can report - which might change day to day depending on the policy of the moment.

Politics:  The party members have all the rights.  Our friend was unhappy with how the goverment ran things, but felt there was NOTHING she could do change anything at all. So she wouldn't try.  Her parents are party members, her father in the army even.  As unhappy as she is, she won't do anything about it.

Business:  Many will cheat ALL tourists, I don't just mean foreign tourists, but even those they know are NOT from the same city.  They even have different menus with different prices for outsiders.  Our friend, he hoped that one day more people would look at everyone as the same - ALL HUMAN - and just treat everyone equally.  Not to look at outsiders and think - I will try to take as much from them as I can.  He is teaching his daughter this, he encourages her to think, be creative and be open to new things.  He hopes for her great things - like any parent.  He told us that he travels much of the time in his work, so he experiences many locals noticing his different accent and doing things like: offerring a different menu, or just charging higher price than the person standing next to you.

In talking to a hostel owner on this, even he as friendly as he was justified this.  You people that travel have money.  Many of these people have a very hard life and their jobs are long and difficult.  So it is fair that when you buy food from them, they can charge you more since obviously you earn more since you can travel... hmm yes well...

ODD habits: The clearing the throat REALLY loud and spitting was a shock.  I even saw one man stand aside and belt out a great big fart - with no hesitation.  Many push and shove, lines are not respected.  Smiling is rare. In a country where you have to run and be first to get things - this can be understood.  As for the throat thing I guess everyone suffers from phlegm issues! 

However please know that kindness is found regularly - I know we found it often.

China has many amazing things.  I don't understand all I saw.  Perhaps I never will fully understand.  I got agitated at a few situations, but then again I also received great feelings many a time at simple places like resturants or even retail outlets where we have a funny great time communicating with one word or hand gestures.. or the famous calculator.

I have a connection with China, which like the book Chinese Lessons started with a passion of the food from when I was a kid.  Later I loved the little junkie stuffs but really had no idea of the meaning of history behind the little jade ornaments or the meaning on yin-yang... It was later I learned more, from my medicine studies that my 'normal' relationship with China changed.  I think it will be ever growing and changing as I learn more and meet more people from this interesting country.  I hope to come back.  I know I will follow it more closely than I have in the past.

Mostly I hope for the country that the people find their way - whatever that might be.  I see that like myself, many a young people seek something - though they are not sure what it is.  I guess I feel connected to them because I feel or felt the same way.  I too look for answers.  Sometimes I think I have found them, sometimes I know I have yet more to discover.

This was the last destination on my honeymoon.  I learned and experienced SO much.  I am sad that China was the last and I often already felt exhausted because I have been on the road for so long - however my experience has been great.  I have learned from every place I have been and grown in more ways I can even describe.  I know myself a bit better and hopefully I have become more than I was.

My story does not end here.  However this year long vacation is ending.  As I travel home to Israel for 2 months I fell happy and excited to no longer be on the road.  To feel again that I am at home - I long for it.  Of course I know I will miss the road.  The road has changed me.  I will always have the travel urge.  For now though I am happy to go home.  To start me next adventure - working in my field of study and starting my own little family.

I am thankful for every experience I have had.  I know I am lucky to have had this chance to travel to so many different places and met so many great & interesting people.  I am also thankful for being ready to come home.  What made this trip so amazing was that I got to share it with Briel - my husband & friend.  He and I didn't share only roses and sunshine.  I just hope we now are closer and happier from all this.

For now I miss home, family and friends.  I can't wait to see them all.  I only wish that ALL my friends where in one place.  I know I would need another world ticket to see you all again.  That part pains me.  Just as it pains me to know I will not see many a friend (who I think of as family) for quite a long while.

If I have learned one thing is this - my world is made amazing because of the people in it.  I hope they know I treasure them all and think of them often.  Even if they are not by my side everyday of my life, I know they are in my heart.  I hope they know that too.

Ciao for now.

Tags: china, culture, people

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