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Barry from Australia is a questioning soul who looks at social issues from an alternative point of view and instead of asking, “Why?”, he asks “Why not?” He’s convinced that many of his previous incarnations were spent in China. He feels drawn to the people there; attracted by their rich culture and way of life. If given one wish from God, he’d reply, “I want everyone on Earth to be the same colour, speak the same language, and treat each other as they themselves would like to be treated.”
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China, Reminiscences

By Barry Pittman
475 Views | 13 Comments | 7/11/2018 2:20:02 PM

I've visited China five times and lived there for about a year teaching English.  With your cognisance, perhaps I can share a few reminiscences with you about it. Both good and bad. Warts 'n all. This article will in fact form part of a short series on this topic.  For the information of those who've heard so much about this mysterious kingdom but not yet had the opportunity to visit it.

BORING



The main thing noted every time I returned to Australia after visiting China, was how damned boring it was! Yes, it's true. I also had lived in the past for two years in the USA (Denver Colorado) and can state that the US is exactly the same in this regard. That is, dead boring. I dare say Canada is a vacuous melting pot of immense banality also, compared to China, which is by comparison, a far more entertaining place to live in so many ways.



After watching "Ice Road Truckers" a few times however, I must admit that Canada does have some terrific vast areas of snow and forest, but what's the good of this? Wander for too long out there and you'll either freeze to death, be forced to speak French  to a Canadian mountie (mon Dieu!) or get attacked by a grizzly! Australia however is almost the opposite, with vast areas of arid semi-desert within its middle, but at least there are no ice road truckers,  French-speaking mounties or grizzly bears here!  Just a few million kangaroos, camels, wild horses, wombats and long-legged emus!



But I digress.  Back to the main point of this article - China.



Put bluntly, China is an adventurer's wet dream.  A nocturnal emission worth waiting for.  A kaleidoscopic erection of epic proportions! I love the place.  Though aspects of it I hate. Similar to my last partner, where I loved her one moment and hated her the next! Sorry, a slight exaggeration, I never really have hated anyone for a long time now.  It's such a negative, useless emotion.



There's so much to say about China. Where to begin?



Okay, let's examine a negative. A serious one unfortunately as illustrated below.



MEDICAL



The overall health system in China is best described as austere. Read on. Let me explain by example.



Would I live in China? Yes. Providing I'm in good health and/or don't have any serious accidents there.



Would I die there? No. Not if this means being hospitalised.



The reason for this seeming incongruity is that for most battlers living on Struggle Street, the Chinese medical system is dismaying. This is one of the very worst features of China. Should you become bedridden in hospital, unless you're on an expensive medical plan that's unaffordable to most folks, you're in big trouble. 



Should you unexpectedly become afflicted with a serious medical condition such as heart attack or cancer, for most normal folks there, family members and/or close friends need to then step up to the plate, helping to take care of you in the hospital. Yes, that's right. For most, full time nurses looking after patients in hospitals in an attentive, full time manner are nowhere to be found.  Some urgent medical care of course is provided by hospital staff, but not anywhere near to the standard of a Western country, unless you can afford it. For ordinary Chinese, the whole hospital system is based on the fact that family members will help look after their relatives in the hospital.



To exacerbate the above, should more than basic treatment be necessary, costs will rise markedly for patients who often don't have the means to pay. This then throws responsibility for costs onto family members. Many examples exist of houses having to be sold to meet hospital expenses. Many families are forced onto the rental market for this very reason.



The same goes for dental treatment. Heaven forbid if you need a complex procedure to be performed as most ordinary folk would struggle to pay. Granted, this is the same in Western countries but unfortunately the situation is even worse in China for millions of poorer people. I know the middle classes are growing, but huge numbers of older, poorer folk are being left by the wayside, falling through the cracks, compelled to lead lives of distressing squalor.



FOOD



On the plus side, food is way cheaper on average compared to Western countries. Small restaurants and eating places are everywhere.  Wafting smells of roasting duck legs, bovine eyeballs, sheep penises, chicken testicles, not to mention foul smelling duck eggs coated with lime and mud. How appetising these all are! Plus of course venemous snake soup, deep fried scorpions and poor octopus' that are still squirming whilst you eat them. It's a veritable gourmet heaven for those masochists who delight in constantly challenging their culinary senses. 



You feel like chicken?  No problem, a poor bird will be quickly plucked out of its cage and have its head chopped off right in front of you!  You feel like fish?  Again, no problem at all.  A hapless fish will be grabbed out of a bucket, then lifted up in the air and swung violently down onto the ground, knocking it senseless.  Sometimes two or three great whacks will be needed to incapacitate the wriggling whiting!  In both these instances, it is of greatest concern to the shopkeeper not to get too much blood on the sidewalk or have the wriggling fish slip out of your hand as you lift it up, before pulverising its head violently onto the pavement, right in front of you!



I won't mention the consumption of dogs at various dog eating festivals around the country as this is a sore point with me, as ignominiously illustrated here:



https://blog.chinalovematch.net/blog/article/Dogs-and-Cats-in-China-Cause-for-Concern-in-Some-Sections



There's a sickening YouTube video doing the rounds now of a small dog being held in place with metal straps at one of these festivals whilst a Chinese man walks up with a fiery blowtorch and starts roasting the terrified animal alive!



I personally have seen several Chinese throwing rocks at a poor dog on the street whilst laughing and having a seemingly great ol' time.  Then there's the small dog that I used to often walk past whilst working in China, that had been kept locked up for its entire life in a bird cage!  The cage was hanging on the outside window sill, which must have been freezing for the poor dog in winter, even though the owner threw a towel over the top of the cage.



Yet many Chinese are the opposite to this, adoring their pets. Lavishing them with treats and giving them a wonderful life.



So the Chinese attitude to animals is inconsistent. I formed the view that many older, more traditional Chinese tended to treat their pets more cruelly than what would be acceptable in the West.  Yet the middle and upper echelons of society there were way different from this, being much kinder to their animals.



So Chinese society is split on this issue.  A minority treat their animals cruelly, in my view.  A majority are fine however, in this regard. Westerners who are travelling around need to brace themselves, for if and when they witness some of the ill treatment meted out to some of the hapless animals there.



GHOSTS?



Another interesting phenomenon are the "ghost cities" in China. Yep, you guessed it.  In some places, entire blocks or even entire cities are virtually desolate.  Brand new, yet abandoned. I saw acres of these when I visited Xuzhou, for example. What the hell's  going on here, given that millions of Chinese still live in impoverished rat holes?



The reasons for this are many. Strong incentives exist for regional councils and local governments there to continually finance real estate construction.  This in turn keeps the employment levels of workers artificially high, reflecting well on the Communist government.



Middle class Chinese have limited options on how to best spend their savings. Deposit funds into their local bank, or invest in the share market, or enter the housing and construction area, either as individuals or cooperatively via large development companies. A couple of years ago, the Chinese sharemarket fell significantly, wiping billions of yuan from the savings of hapless investors. I personally know one or two Chinese whose finances were suddenly decimated in this way. But conversely, the value of real estate soared as investors bailed out of their sharemaket portfolios.  This in turn further helped fuel the explosion of these "ghost cities".



It's really weird though, seeing multiple huge new skyscrapers completely empty.  It gives an eery, desolate feeling to the area. But at the same time, one marvels at the frenetic work ethic and burgeoning ability of Chinese. This fascinating country is going places fast!



(To be continued)


Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 10 of 13) 1 2 More...
#2018-07-11 14:19:49 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

I have held off on publishing this article of Barry's in order to let the rash of science/truther conspiracy theories wind down on Barry's last blog. I think it was Barry's, but can't remember for sure, as the comments became so irrelevant to what the blog had been about that I have forgotten the original subject matter.

But here is a great blog about China. It would be much appreciated if we could keep our comments in relation to the content of the blog itself. Let's give that are best efforts, shall we?

My first reaction to this post is how right you are Barry about China being so captivating. And yes, by comparison, Canada is as interesting as watching a snail race in which there is only one snail. Although Canada has recently developed one pretty interesting subject though, that being watching the Prime Minister find a new way everyday to embarrass us on the world front. The idiocy of the man knows no bounds.

China is fascinating. I met countless expats during my more than a decade there who all agreed that, while they spent much of everyday being seriously annoyed at some frustrating aspect of life in China, they couldn't imagine leaving.

I have now been away for going on 5 years, which was not my intention, and I miss China very much. We have a condo in Lijiang, a wonderful city, and we still plan to go back there and live on a 6 month per year basis. The problem is that we have accumulated a family of two beautiful German Shepherd dogs, and two amazing cats, and we can't leave them behind for 6 months of every year.

Some people wouldn't think twice about handing off their pets to others and hoping all goes well, but I am not able to bring myself to do that. So if we do move back to China anytime soon, it would seem that we'll need to bring the whole crew with us. I wonder how fascinated they would be with China.

I am looking forward to other peoples comments on living in China.  And more of Barry's insights on life there as well.

#2018-07-11 23:40:05 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

I feel the same way. Having lived and worked there for 3 years, I'm now back in Australia, and quite frankly, I'm bored to tears. I miss 'my' kids, I miss 'my' school, I miss 'my' life in China.

It's strange that this article should be published today, here on CLM, because today, my old boss contacted me and asked me to go back. Without thinking, I replied with a resounding YES!

Having been back in Australia for just about one year, I can't WAIT to get back to China, and back into the job I love so much.

 

It may be polluted, it may be overcrowded, it may not be the best place on Earth, but it's FULL of 'something'.......and it's that 'something' that we, who have experienced China, cannot describe, or explain.

 

Sure, like everywhere, it has its 'faults', but it also has that 'something' that is able to create a huge 'void' in the lives of people who have once lived there, and now, like me, need to go back!

 

I, actually, can't wait !

#2018-07-12 13:07:42 by Barry1 @Barry1


@paulfox1

 

"It may be polluted, it may be overcrowded, it may not be the best place on Earth, but it's FULL of 'something'.......and it's that 'something' that we, who have experienced China, cannot describe, or explain."

 

I know exactly what you mean, Paul.  Unless you've lived there for a while, as opposed to spending a few weeks holiday there looking at all the touristy spots, you'll never know the "real" China.

 

But the real China isn't all good.  Far from it. More on this in this series of upcoming blogs.

 

In your situation though Paul, given your age, my best advice is to be aware of retirement issues. As wonderful as China is, you nevertheless need to have a plan for your life after age 60, when you'll be unceremoniously booted out of China, unable to again legally work there. Unless you have a business visa, but this then means a whole new set of issues arise.

 

Good luck, Paul! (beer)

 

 

#2018-07-12 13:12:27 by Barry1 @Barry1


@JohnAbbot

 

"The problem is that we have accumulated a family of two beautiful German Shepherd dogs, and two amazing cats, and we can't leave them behind for 6 months of every year"



If you take your animals to China John, be very careful.  As you know, dog theft is a major concern in some areas there, where hapless animals are furtively stolen and sold on the black market to restaurants or agents who work for restaurants.

 

Most Chinese are kind hearted, decent people, but not everyone unfortunately... there's an endemic underbelly of crime there!  :o

 

 

#2018-07-13 12:31:56 by Barry1 @Barry1


@JohnAbbot

 

"It would be much appreciated if we could keep our comments in relation to the content of the blog itself. Let's give that are best efforts, shall we?"


You made me smile John, when soon after writing the above, you then deviated entirely away from China into the politics of Canada!  (giggle)(giggle)

 

"Canada has recently developed one pretty interesting subject though, that being watching the Prime Minister find a new way everyday to embarrass us on the world front. The idiocy of the man knows no bounds."


You are indeed a mighty man amongst men, John  - a true, unabashed free thinker!  (giggle)(giggle)

#2018-07-13 14:23:37 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Barry1 - I guess I did veer a little off course with the comment about Justin Trudeau, but it was meant as a comparison to China. I should have completed the thought with "It is the opposite in China, where President Xi is a leader to be taken seriously, and one who is much adored by the vast majority of Chinese."

Regarding our pets, I agree that it would be very difficult having those 4 over in China, and would require keeping them under a watchful eye at all times. It is a huge issue for us, and not an easy one to solve.

@PaulFox1 - I envy you your return to China, and the freedom that comes with it. As we both have commented previously, more than anything else, what I loved and miss about living in China was the sense of total freedom one felt there.  It's something that you can't understand until you've experienced it, and something I highly recommend that everyone should experience.

#2018-07-13 20:15:46 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@JohnAbbot

Maybe the 'something' I referred to above IS that feeling of total freedom?

 

I certainly don't feel 'free' here...................

#2018-07-15 01:08:20 by anonymous17538 @anonymous17538

Barry, I really enjoyed this blog, I agree with most of what you have said here. I do get a feeling of freedom that I do not really have in my country. I do however see that this freedom comes at an evironmental cost for the Chinese people, which is a damn shame. There is alot of Police presence especially near big shopping malls and Mau statues. I was warned not to say anything derogatory towards Mau in these places as the police monitor the parks for these types of things closely, hence the battlecruisers, many police on foot and listening posts(trucks) at these parks.

I find the handjob shops aka massage tables/parlours hidden in barber shops all over big cities in China hilarious lol. My woman says they dont exist even when seeing one from the street, FACE! Interesting tidbit, one of the fastest rising businesses is male massage therapists giving women breat massages saying it is great for the body, circulation and prevention of breast cancer. It seems to me that the women "get off" and hide behind the "its theraputic" excuse..lol I guess their husbands dont care as they are off with their mistresses...

I personally have not seen cats and dogs mistreated but it is quite common to see a goat get bled out on the sidewalk. I have seen many younger people walking cats on leashes just like a dog. Fish have a rough life in China especially when it comes to being killed for dinner. In the west we use a fishbonker to do the deed, 1 whack and it is done. I showed a local business owner in China a drawing of one and my women explained how well it worked and was alot less messy, 2 days later he had made himself one and was enthusiastically using it with a big smile on his face.

China is a majical place and has many beautiful women, just have a very large wallet if you intend on marrying one...

#2018-07-17 09:15:54 by Barry1 @Barry1


@anonymous17538

 

Very interesting comments indeed, cheers mate!  (beer)(beer)

#2018-07-18 22:40:48 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@Barry1

No conspiracies = no blog replies....................Interesting !

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