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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

A comparison

CHINA | Friday, 7 March 2008 | Views [479]

Here we go.  The official, written comparison of Chinese people versus American people.  

Chinese people are infuriatingly simple.  The most maddening example of their lack of complexity is riding public transportation.  Any visitor to China is amazed by how they conduct themselves while in transit.  It's so hard to comprehend, it's nearly impossible to write.  Suffice it to say, without preparation of mind, body, and soul, dealing with the subways or buses in China is a task better left unaccomplished. 

A prime example of this would be my voyage from Dali to Kunming.  I decided to take the train.  I would be making this voyage alone, as Mario and Ilan didn't have to return to Beijing as early as I did.  I woke up really, really early to get to the train station on time.  I had stayed up most of the night before to ensure that I would be properly exhausted to sleep through the surely horrendous train ride. 

I overestimated the time it would take to get to the train station and was there far too early.  I decided to immediately get in line for the train.  Because I've done this before, and so I knew how it would go. 

Everyone is ASSIGNED A SEAT on the trains.  There is no reason to push, shove, cut in line, or run to the train.  But the Chinese insist on making this the ritual experience of getting on trains.  While I was waiting, listening to my iPod, minding my own business, an older Chinese lady put her bag directly in front of me.  As if I wasn't even there.  I just looked at her.  And she picked up her bag and gave me a little nod of apology.  I still don't understand why they attempt that.

So I'm standing there, observing what's happening.  We have about 10 maybe 15 minutes to wait before the train starts boarding.  And the doors are actually locked with chains.  They have actually caged the people in to stop them from...I don't know...like rushing the field?  I couldn't believe that I was caged like an animal along with about 15 million Chinese people.  I wondered why they think this is acceptable.  Not that they were chained in, but that they HAD to be chained in to avoid the catastrophe of people trampling each other to death to get on the train.  (This is actually a legitmate concern.  Some of the subway stations in Beijing have these ridiculous cattle herding gate things.  They are obviously annoying.  I inquired about their existence once and was informed that these were put in place because TOO MANY PEOPLE WERE DYING while trying to get on the subway.)

That is my biggest complaint about Chinese people.

Americans, on the other hand, are too LOUD!  On my brief return trip to Kunming, I stayed in a different hostel.  This one was more convient because it was closer to the train station.  I spent most of that return trip in the hostel because it was cozy and had food and free internet.  I was sitting in the common area reading when another American returned to the hostel. 

Upon entering, he screamed, "Who the f--- is choosing the music around here?  Someone needs to fire the DJ."  He then had a loud and obnoxious conversation with the host about why Chinese people love "Hotel California."  A conversation which anyone within six miles of the hostel could here. 

I wondered...

Every nationality has its downfalls (I walked around the streets of Morocco with a couple of British guys who insisted on singing something about marching Christian soliders at the top of their lungs.), but sometimes these downfalls are just ridiculous.  And should be pointed out by a not-too-objective source. 

Tags: Adventures

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