I wish you all had a very merry Christmas! I’m having my two days of breathing chance in Hong Kong where I can actually visit my own blog. I didn’t write weekly obsessions last week because I left on Thursday to China and didn’t have a chance really to think about others than travelling. So here’s two weeks worth of stuff to stay about my beloved motherland. The good, the bad, the ugly, here’s weekly obsessions, China edition.
I’ve been taught, always begin constructive critics with a thick layer of compliments. So I start with the good, stuff I love about China, or more specifically Guangzhou, this huge city I was born in over 30 years ago. I moved to the Finland with my family when I was just six and I’ve since then been back here less than ten times, more of less just to see my grandparents and other relatives. Guangzhou has been through huge changes, and I was too young to remember places anyway, so I always feel like a tourist in my own hometown. I know the language, but I don’t know the streets. That’s why I don’t particularly like the place, it’s still in the middle of changing into a proper metropolitan with tourist friendly facilities. I think in ten years or so, this will be a much better place. There are however a couple of things that I adore in this city, and here they are.
Cheap transportation – Especially taxis. The standard fee is around 1,4 euros and most of the time the trip won’t past 2 euros. Plus taxi services like Uber has invaded China too, making ’real’ taxis really easy to catch.
Hair salons – One word, luxurious. Because I live in Finland, I take hot water and strong showers for granted. Then once in a while I dip my feet back at the big pond in this side of the world and I get a crude reality check. The water from showers here are weak as a little boy’s pee, and hot water long enough for me to wash my thick ass mane of a hairdo is rare. Gladly I stay at a hotel so both were okay. Still, I prefer to wash my hair whenever I’m in China at hair salons. There are tons of them around and many very luxurious. At the top class hair salons it cost around five euros to have your hair washed really thoroughly, with a head massage on top, and a fabulous blow dry that leaves my hair fluffy and soft and so straight. You can get a cup of tea too and there is usually fast wifi at hair salons. Having somebody wash your hair is so incredibly relaxing. I would let someone wash my hair every week for the rest of my life if only I have the money to migrate an entire Chinese hair salon to my basement. Right next to my indoor heated swimming pool… yeah like I even have a house with a basement. 😛
Bakeries – Food is of course really really good in Guangzhou. The problem is, I get overwhelmed by the amount of choices and I’m so used to the food being good that it takes a lot for any food to wow me anymore in China. Except bakeries. I’m obsessed with Chinese bakeries. They are my brand of candy shop. Holy carbs they’re beautiful places, heaven on earth! I don’t usually even eat a lot of bread or cakes, but while I’m in China, I can seriously live on bread and cakes only. There is so much variaty that I can probably have a different sweet or savory bread for every meal for three weeks. The secret why they are so tasty is because there probably aren’t much nutritional value to those delicious heavenly bread and pastries, and they pack tons of sugar, butter and salt in them. Once in few years, I couldn’t give a fuck about that.
Oh boy, now comes the bad. Well, not particularly bad as in horrible, just cultural differences. If you’re ever coming to China to travel, make sure the hotel you’re staying at have ’western’ beds. I happened to choose a Chinese hotel with very traditional Chinese beds. Chinese people are sadists, or masochists, depends on the view point, their beds are so fucking hard. It’s I-will-bruise-my-butt-if-I-try-to-bounce-on-them hard. The mattress has no give whatsoever. It feels basically like a wooden board with a sheet on it. After the first night, I went and purchased a cheap mattress (it was cheap because it was soft and no one here wants anything soft) and now my butt still hurts while I’m writing this sitting on a cheap soft mattress with two extra blanket on top to soften it. Why? Why don’t you want to sleep on something soft??
And another thing is toilets. I think everyone has heard about the hole on the floor kind of toilet that is kinda the thing all over Asia. Well, it’s proven that squatting down is a better position for pooping but still, I’m a lazy ass, I wanna sit. It still scares me to venture into a new place like a restaurant and visit the toilet. You can’t be sure which one you would get.
And then there’s the coffee. Or the lack of proper coffee. There are Starbucks and the kind here everywhere but we all know that Starbucks is not proper coffee. It always takes a week or so for me to get used to the severe lack of caffeine in my system and not fall asleep all the time. Chinese people are great with tea, you can get really good tea around every corner. A cup of regular coffee is an object of desire here.
Oookay, let’s get to the ugly stuff. The censorship, the great firewall of China, is obviously ridiculous. I have never felt the full force of it until now when 90% of my cellphone’s apps don’t work. Most of the webpages I visit daily don’t work. Obviously porn is nowhere to be found. I have to use Bing for a seach engine for fuck’s sake. That’s why even on holiday, I had to make careful plans for writing these entries and publishing them on my two-day window in Hong Kong. It is truly impressive how effective the firewall is and how I can never live in China just because I can’t visit Youtube.
And then there’s this little thing called noise pollution. Everything is so LOUD in here. People talk real loud of course, but it’s because the environment is so very loud. They have a loud voice announcing every stop on busses and elevators and trains. They have women with microphones yelling different products on sale in supermarkets and other stores. Drivers like their horns a little too much. People talk loudly on cellphones all the time. There’s practically no place in Guangzhou that you can escape traffic noises. I’m so looking forward to the absolutely quietness in Finland at night.
Lastly, the smoking culture. It’s fucking everywhere. First of all, I’ve never smoked in my life. I hate smokers by default and I hate the smell of it. I hate the fact that smokers are still allowed to blow their bad habits into my face while it’s proven that the smoke is danger for health. Around three or four years ago, the law was passed to forbidden smoking in restaurants. I still need to suffer through cigarrette smoke while I’m eating in restaurants nowadays. Today I visited my grandfather at the hospital and over 20 men and women were lighting up right outside the main entrance of the hospital. People still smoke in hotel rooms. It’s truly an ugly sight and smell.
It feels strange to end this entry to such a sad ugly note, but I hope live to see change for the better cos Guangzhou has potential to be a great city. Next time, since it’s almost New Year, I will write about a little look-back on the kinky year 2015. Until then.