Experience in China in 7 words or less
Taylor: Duplicitous, in both good and bad ways
Most Memorable Moment
Taylor: I think I have two: the first was less than 72 hours after arriving in Chengdu – when walking down an escalator, we saw a parent holding their child over a trash can so the child could poop. That was a nice orientation to children’s toilet habits. The second was much more positive, and was when we had finally made it to the summit of Emei Mountain just in time to see the clouds clearing around the golden statue of Samantabhadra.
There were a few things we surprisingly became accustomed to. One was the overcrowding of the people on the buses, in the parks, on the streets, highways, and at every tourist location we visited. Even eating out in restaurants that could, in a single word, be described as sketchy – became normal. And in our four weeks, we almost became accustomed to the total lack of adherence to any road rules. We definitely decided if there are rules, they must really only be guidelines. There were two specific and unfortunately regular things that neither of us could become accustomed to. Spitting and children’s bathroom habits. Everyone spits, anywhere and everywhere (yes, everyone and yes, it’s everywhere) and children when out in public very rarely use actual toilets (ie. they just drop their pants on the sidewalk and go). We were actually amazed how frequently we saw this happen and we saw it in every city we visited. Overall it was an easy four weeks, the people we met were great, we enjoyed the food, the language barrier wasn’t an issue and we did not encounter any major roadblocks to prevent our stay from being anything other than an enjoyable month in a totally different culture.
Things we will miss
Taylor: There are a lot of things I will miss about China. The food, for one (I know, I know, we’ve said it a million times). I especially enjoyed eating out with coworkers because it gave me an opportunity to get to know them and the food they typically eat. And I will definitely miss the people I got to know at work – there were two women in particular who I spent the most time getting to know and I’ll miss being able to ask them questions about themselves and Chinese culture (and answer their questions about the US). I’ll miss all the history. Almost everything in China has a massive documented history, which means that everything and everyone has a story to tell that is sometimes centuries old. And I will definitely miss those weekend trips (although we are taking them in Morocco, as well). We only had three weekends to enjoy in China and there were so many things to see. Living in Chengdu for a month was such a great experience. I don’t know that I could live there much longer, but my four weeks gave me a much different insight than a shorter period of time as a tourist would have.
Things we won't miss
Taylor: There are some things I definitely won’t miss: the terrifying experience that made up crossing any street, the staring, the spitting, the lack of always breathable air in the city, and the children defecating in trash cans (Yes, we did see that more than once). But this experience was more positive than I think I had even anticipated it being, and while I’m happy to move on with our trip and to see new places, I am very glad to have spent those 4 weeks in Chengdu.