China Extras

Our trip to China is a wrap. There were a number of random things that didn’t really fit into another post, so I’m putting them here. Some because they are entertaining and others, because I don't want to forget any of the details. 

  • A source of much hilarity for us and much stress for our girls were the squatty potties. Many countries have some version them, although I’d have to say that they make more sense to me in a less industrialized area. However, they seem to be the toilet of choice in China, especially in the smaller cities and more traditional settings. These were not the hole in the ground like you would find in other countries, but rather an actual flushing toilet nestled level with the floor. An added bonus is that you needed to bring your own toilet paper. The first time Emmy met up with a squatty potty, it drove her to tears. Then in her words, “Her pee was on the time change,” and she simply refused to go during the day. Bailey insisted that her “kneekle” on her amputated leg does not bend far enough, so she tried to avoid them as well. It was inevitable that at some point  they would have to use one…and now Emmy is traumatized for life. She has been beaten by a toilet. 

  • The driving is insane. There are about 2,000,000 scooters on the road and an equal number of bikes. There don’t seem to be any rules. It is completely normal to see an elderly lady riding her bike through the middle of an intersection or a mom with a baby on a scooter weaving in and out of traffic. Pedestrians beware. You do not have the right of way and they will hit you. It is madness. 

Lady almost being hit by a van. 

  • I ate these potato chips one day. I’m not proud, but I was desperate and there was no other choice. They were steak-flavored. They did not taste good, but the smell was even worse. (Luke informed me that he also saw roasted squid-flavored chips.)

  • In a restaurant, the waiters only come to you if you call them. If you want service, you must constantly wave them to your table. Additionally, if you try to customize something on the menu when ordering, it sends them into complete confusion and panic. Something as simple as a cheeseburger with no cheese…it is too much to handle. 
  • All over China you see recycling trash cans. There are also the long-standing traditions of Feng Shui and Yin and Yang. The Chinese are very concerned with the aesthetics of things. If there is a round building, they put a square one next to it. On a cold day, they drink warm water. The architecture is quite beautiful. And yet, almost every town has smoke stacks billowing pollution. There is horrible smog. This picture below was from Lexi's home town of Datong, which was filled with these. And most people in China smoke, which also seems contradictory. It feels a bit hypocritical and it was fairly obvious that the China the government wants you to see and the real China are two very different things

  • Elevators - The doors close extremely fast. If you don't hop on in about four seconds, you miss it. 

  • We came across some unusual and different things in our hotels. One was a window into the bathroom. The curtain was completely sheer and served no purpose. (You could see all the business that was happening.) 

  • Another was a mirror in the shower. (Um...no thank you.)

  • These were the double beds that the kids shared. Super cozy. 

  • Children don’t ride in car seats in China, they typically just sit in someone’s lap. We actually drove by a car with a car seat. But the passenger sitting next to it was holding the baby in their lap and the car seat was empty. So Lexi has never been in a car seat, but upon arriving home will have to spend her life in one. That should be a fun adjustment. Said this mom, never. 

  • Because of both the language barrier and inability to custom order at restaurants, Luke and Emmy existed (due to their anaphylactic food allergies) on these camping meals and various snacks. They packed a thermos in the morning and then always had something with them to eat. It worked pretty well, although by the end they were very tired of camping meals. We did have food allergy cards written in Mandarin, but many times we felt like we couldn't fully trust what they were telling us because they don't have to deal with food allergies in China. 

  • There are several Wal-Marts in Guangzhou. They are very similar to Wal-Mart at home. Except, you can buy live turtles and other sea life…to take home for dinner. 

  • All of the hotels had a breakfast buffet. There was quite a large selection of both Chinese food as well as choices from other countries. Most days it was our largest meal because we weren't certain when or what we would eat again. My breakfast usually consisted of bacon, a hard-boiled egg, steamed cabbage and rice noodles. There were a lot of fresh produce options as well, but we stayed away from those in an effort to avoid any chance of tummy yuckiness. 

  • Everywhere we went, we were like celebrities or a freak show...depending on how you choose to look at it. There were so many people staring and taking pictures of the kids. We had to keep reminding ourselves it was a cultural thing. It was fun at first, but by the end of our time, the kids were tired of it and would hide behind Patrick. We had a lot of things the Chinese people found intriguing and different...a large family, two children with light hair and fair skin, and an African. On the last day, Bailey wore shorts and her prosthetic was visible, which drew some of the longest stares of all.

We loved our time in China and all of the new experiences it brought. We expected differences and we tried to be respectful and adaptable. But we are we are feeling very thankful to be home to what we know and what is familiar. 

God bless America. 

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