Peculiarities of China

1. Rain Sweeping

I find great amusement in the people I see with huge brooms made of tangled straw furiously brushing at the stepping-stones at the park. They literally sweep the rocks that are set within the dirt of the outdoor park. The sweepers also emerge after heavy rainstorms to brush accumulated puddles of rain toward…I guess the center of the road.

I’m not entirely certain about the logistics, but I think these people are employed by the city. I can only imagine the uproar in the U.S. if tax-paying citizens found the city was employing people to sweep dirt and rain.

2. Outfit Recycling

When I first arrived in China, the AIESEC member helping me find an apartment wore the same outfit three days in a row.

I remember pointing out his colorful shirt the first day I met him because I liked it. When he wore it the second day we met up, I thought maybe he assumed the same outfit would help me find him in the sea of similar-looking Chinese people. By the third day I was thoroughly confused. When I began work I saw the same oddity. My Chinese colleagues would recycle same outfit about four days in a row, then pick a new outfit and stick with that one for a while.

While out at lunch, a Chinese co-worker told me that he and the others were amazed at how many outfits I must have brought to Beijing. Apparently the limited number of outfits I squeezed into my suitcase has impressed the natives.

3. Fast Food Delivery

McDonald’s and KFC deliver here. Enough said.

4. Squatting Babies

I’ve been told that diapers are a rarity for most people in China. Since most parents cannot afford them, they have adopted an unusual alternative. Their children wear pants that are split so that they don’t soil their pants when they do their *ahem* business.

These pants allow infants to squat down wherever and go to the bathroom. This means on the sidewalk, outside of McDonald’s, or, yes, even on the subway, you will find squatting babies. What puzzles me is that they soil everything else.

5. Cars in Hutongs

I’ve accepted the idea of a hutong, but I’m still baffled the the number of cars that drive down these narrow streets thinking that they’ll make it past the parked cars already crammed into the road. This clip is of a truck and a car trying to squeeze past each other. Astoundingly, they always seem to make it without a scratch.