A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about china

China. Wow.

Some highlights (and a couple lowlights) from my intro to the People’s Republic

rain 16 °C

September 9, 2011 -- 9:10 pm

1) I have decided that Chinese babies/toddlers might be the cutest children in the world. Seriously! They are just OBSCENELY cute! I think it's the chubby cheeks. Photographic evidence below.


2) Met two of the coolest old dudes who basically volunteer (they get paid a tiny stipend) to run the Plan child centre in their community. They were soooooo obviously passionate about the work and really felt it was important for the community. They were so excited talking to me and kept shouting over one another, so my colleague didn't know who to translate for, it was great. Mr Yao and Mr Yao, no relation. They were cool as beans. Photographic evidence below.


3) I peed in what was, hands down, the NASTIEST toilet I have ever used in my life! And that's saying something, I've seen some pretty rancid loos on a number of continents. This one was a waterless concrete hole and was quite literally a festering, roiling mass of shit, piss and half-inch-long white maggots. GROSS! Photographic evidence below.


4) I ate some of the best noodles ever. They were home-made, exquisitely chewy, and came in this spicy thick brown sauce. The resto owners were delightful, and quite pleased to have a foreigner in their small-town establishment. They quite seriously assured me when taking our order that their restaurant didn't have rats. That is good to know. Below is a photo of their mah jong table.


5) There are all kinds of counterfeit 100 yuan notes in circulation. Now, I kinda expect a fake note from a dodgy taxi driver or a shady shop owner, but a legitimate bank ATM?? Ouch.

6) Chinese babies pee on the floor!! They have pants made expressly for it! There's a big hole in the crotch of their pants, and they wear no underwear or diapers. Their moms or dads just hold them up and they wee right on the floor wherever they happen to be. Then every now and then someone gets a mop and wipes the floor down. I counted, and tried to avoid (with about 95% success), five puddles while I was there. My colleague says they wear diapers at night. What happens when they need to poo? (They still win the cutest babies in the world award, floor-weeing or no.)

7) When driving out to the village we passed apple orchard after corn field after apple orchard on repeat. Later in the day, this middle-aged man - without saying a word - took my bag from me, opened the zipper, and stuffed it full with as many apples as it could hold. He then just laughed and handed it back to me. Nicest. People. Ever.


Posted by DenaAllen 07:47 Archived in China Tagged kids china living abroad toilets Comments (0)

Living & dying as an imperial consort

The Emperor will need female companionship in the afterlife

sunny 26 °C

They buried the concubines in pits, after the women had hung themselves from silk ropes or swallowed poison. This is what my guide to the Ming Tombs in China, John, informs me as we both stare down at the metal grate covering one of the pits in question.


Upon death and his entry to the afterlife, the Emperor would need female companionship. So he chose which concubines were to be executed by palace eunuchs or to commit suicide, and they were buried on the outskirts of the tombs.

“Sometimes they were burnt, and very rarely they were buried alive in a standing position, so they could greet the Emperor in the afterlife.”

The latter two practices were discontinued in the advancing years of the Ming dynasty after being deemed uncivilized.

The Imperial Garden was the site of concubine try-outs. Concubines would audition for entry into the Emperor’s select inner harem. Some Emperors had thousands of concubines, so making it into the elite inner circle was no small feat. Those who didn’t make the cut were given as presents to foreign dignitaries, nobles, or those the Emperor was pleased with.

Staring at those burial pits, wind through cypress needles, I shudder, snap a photo, and walk on.




Posted by DenaAllen 06:08 Archived in China Tagged culture city china forbidden living_abroad Comments (0)

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