15 Nov 2011
Impressions from Beijing – 6 experiences that surprised me in China
- 2. Milk delivery and bill collection. My door bell rang at 5:40am this morning, I stumbled out of bed to peek through the keyhole, aha, it’s the milk delivery man. I opened the door, and said, “That’s an early delivery.”. He said, “yes, but I am also here to collect payment!”. “how much?” I asked. “RMB 840.” (USD 130) How was I supposed to have that much cash at this ungodly hour? “I’ll pay you next week.” “OK” he said, and I closed the door behind me, and went back to bed. I love the fact that I can get everything delivered at no extra charge, but what happened to online payment? Nope, it’s all cash upon delivery, at any hour of the day!
- 3. A permanent conversation topic – food safety It’s a safe conversation starter with any parents in China. where do you source healthy food items? Where do you buy chicken, celery, or milk. Yes, the supermarket is stocked full with large varieties of these, but no one really trusts them. So, we searched, and found, Wonder milk (full or low fat), they don’t make them in skim or in cartons larger than half a quart. Apparently, the organic chicken should come from BHG supertmarket. I had some super sweet chestnuts the other day, and wondered if they soaked the nuts in artificial sweetner ahead of time. Eat, but keep on questioning.
4. A well thought through road sign. This is the sign that’s in front of our apartment. My son discovered it. Whoever made this sign gave it a lot of thoughts, and decided to lay out the letters from left to right to match the direction the sign was pointing to. Reading from left to right, it says: ”Beijing of Hospital Force Police Armed People’s Chinese” , but try it the other way. Genius!
5. Every Chinese is traveling the world. Went back home in Yunnan the other day, and my aunt told me that she was going on a leisure trip to Dubai! She’s usually a good parameter on where the hot destinations are. A selection of a few places she went in the past 5 years: America, 新马泰 (Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand on one trip.), Japan, 欧洲10国 （10 European countries), and Russia. I have no doubt she’ll be headed towards the Maldives, and Maritius soon. By the way, the 7 day Dubai, air inclusive journey costs around RMB 7000. (USD 1100).
6. The automated verification process on Chinese internet. Usually, on craigslist, you are asked to key in a few jumbled letters to verify that you are a human, not a machine. In China, the process requires higher level of intelligence. For example, 16+20=?, please type in two numbers that’s the answer to this equation. Example two, what’s the capital city of Russia: please input 3 characters to answer this question. (莫斯科 is the right answer)。
6. Kids study hard. “Ayi, it only takes me two hours to complete my homework!” a nine year old boy told me proudly. I had to ask his parents to make sure that I heard him right. “Yes, it takes other kids 3-4 hours to do homework, so he’s very proud!”. WOW, how are the American kids going to catch up?