As our time spent living in China comes to a close, we’ve been reflecting on our time here, and all the things we’ve encountered. What a difference a few months make to our thoughts about this Country. Whilst the majority of our experiences have been positive, and we’ve loved China on the whole, there are certainly some things that we’re going to be glad to say goodbye to!
And so begins a three part series, the first being the things we won’t miss about China! We’ll also be letting you know what we will miss, and the weirdest things we’ve discovered whilst living in this crazy Country.
On paper, the weather in China doesn’t sound too bad: essentially the same as that in the UK but a little more extreme. In reality, it’s been difficult to cope with the weather in Ningbo. Our first few months here, it was extremely hot and humid, but clouds plagued the sky and a sunny day was rare. All of a sudden at the end of November, the temperature dropped, and it dropped dramatically.
It’s been very cold since then, and the smog has been almost unbearable. Even living on the coast in an area that has some of the best air quality levels in the Country, I’ve been in a state of ill health for a couple of months now. I got very sick in December, so badly that I was given a CT scan in hospital, and I’ve had a persistent cough since then which has now turned back into an illness. It’s probably due to my asthma, but I’ve really been affected by the poor air quality here.
Focusing on our physical and emotional health is important to us, and so we certainly won’t miss the weather in China!
Having Our Photos Taken
Now, I will say that after living here for several months, we don’t often notice people taking pictures of us anymore. However, when we do notice them it’s particularly awkward. Just this evening we went to a Chinese arcade (very strange…) and a guy started videoing Seb on the games. We just can’t understand what the fascination with us is, but we’re assured it’s not malicious.
In all fairness, Seb does look funny on a horse…
Another occasion I found particularly strange was my first time volunteering at the dog shelter. After we left, the manager took CCTV video footage of us and posted it on Chinese social media. This was apparently because she was so pleased that we’d come to help, but in the Western world it’s a complete invasion of privacy.
We must admit, we’re really looking forward to being ‘normal’ for a while when we go back to the UK in April.
This is quite controversial, and I feel the need to say that we actually really like teaching. The issue simply is that spending time teaching is taking away from our ability to run the blog and freelance effectively, and we’re ready to focus our attention on that instead.
This is my office now!
It wasn’t so long ago that I made a comment that no-one in Ningbo went to the toilet in public. I was very wrong. Since then, we’ve had children peeing in bins, pooing on the pavement next to the subway station, adults squatting over bins and peeing into bags… it’s really quite disgusting. Don’t even get me started on the kids who wear crotchless trousers and no nappy.
Whilst this behavior is the last thing we’ll miss about China, we have to say that on the whole the public toilets themselves haven’t been as bad as we thought. Just take your own tissues and, whatever you do, don’t sit on the seats.
We’re not talking about inner-City transport here. The metro is a steal at £0.20 per journey, and a taxi journey is rarely more than £2, but to get from City to City is pricey and often confusing.
We’ve had to forget our plans to go to Xi’An and Chengdu right now, as it’s impossible to get there for what we’d consider a reasonable price. Even a return to Shanghai, just 2 hours away, costs £35pp. It was cheaper for us to fly to Thailand than it was to go to Beijing.
On top of that, if you want to avoid the expensive Ctrip fees then you need to buy tickets at the station. The last time we visited, we waited in three separate queues, only to be told three separate times that we were in the wrong queue to purchase tickets.
We’re looking forward to being back in Countries where we can take a bus, or budget plane, for just a few pounds.
Flashback to the train station during National Holiday!
No, not everyone has poor hygiene habits, but unfortunately it’s quite common. Deodorant is about £5 per bottle here, so it’s no wonder many people don’t wear it. It’s also a regular sight to see children with their teeth rotting away, as they just don’t take care of them in the same way that we do in Western Europe.
And then there’s the spitting. Not an hour goes by where we don’t see one person or another spitting in the street, or into a bin. It’s just not seen as an issue in China. Also, in a weird twist from Western culture, picking your nose and playing with the contents is totally okay, but putting your fingers near or in your mouth is a no.
We definitely won’t miss these Chinese habits, but sleeping on the job is something we could happily support in the UK!
These are the things we’ll miss least about China. Have you visited this Country? What did you find were the hardest things to manage? Leave a comment down below and let us know, or follow us on social media and send a message!
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