Posted by: kim | July 1, 2007

Tmnm Sq

tmnm Sq, originally uploaded by jasmine_tea.

Let’s just say when I called this photo by its actual name, I was unable to post it (what a surprise), so I’ve been reduced to shorthand! And I can’t even see the photograph once I uploaded it.
While I’m here, some thoughts from me (Kim):

1. Generally, as foreigners (lao wai) we’ve been treated well. Many people find us curious more than anything (they’ll yell out ‘hello’ or ‘how do you do’ from their silent electric bicycles or mopeds). Some might grumble and look down on us, like the guy at the internet cafe muttering something about foreigners, and the frankly idiotic woman at the hotel in Shanghai who didn’t want to approve the countersignature on my traveller’s cheque. Seeing another Westerner outside the major tourist attractions is a rarity outside of Beijing and Shanghai.
2. We’ve noticed that the cities are full of young people. Many seem materialistic; a stark difference to their parents. We don’t know if the young people have moved to the cities or lived there all their lives, or whether their families still live in the countryside. In Chengdu there are so many malls with all the big international brand names, and people are buying it all. The aspirational lifestyle is in full swing.

3. All women walking down the street wear impossibly uncomfortable heels. Even the female traffic conductor yesterday was running around in extremely high wedges, and the bus conductor today was walking up and down the aisle in stilettos.

4. When you order a meal with rice, it always arrives after all the main dishes. I’m used to eating rice with my meal, not afterwards. At the end of the meal everyone eats watermelons in Beijing.

5. Also about food: I’m left-handed so feel like I have a hundred eyes staring at me when using the ‘taboo’ hand to eat. After 2.5 weeks here I’ve learnt to ignore it. Also, it’s bad luck or something if your teapot spout is pointing at someone.

6. CCTV, the state channel, is hilarious. Rather than investigate issues in depth the English channel at least focuses on stories such as the woman who (apparently) consumed nothing but water for five years; the ‘dancing’ plants that respond to some teenager’s harmonica (but only in the early morning and late afternoon) and the guy who makes homes for grasshoppers from gourds. Yesterday and today, ample and extremely boring, biased coverage on the ‘wondrous’ 10 year anniversary of the HK hand-over was in full swing. How properous the region has become; how much better it is since the British handed over power; etc etc. No other balanced viewpoints at all.

7. Internet cafes here are odd. Most people play some dancing type game, watch films or chat. Some even play Solitaire. Solitaire! I’m convinced that the guy here has put us on some ‘slow’ connection just for foreigners.

More later….



  1. yes! I feel you with the left handed thing. I found the stares were not so much that it is taboo to eat with your left hand… I found people were really curious about me being left handed! They always asked me if I write with my left hand… I think they think its kind of freakish. 🙂

    Sounds like you had fun times on your travels. Reading about your time in China makes me excited about going there to travel around.

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