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China through the Kaleidoscope of a Curious Traveler

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On our way to America, we had to spend about ten hours in Guangzhou, the third most populous city in mainland China. Unlike Changsha, cars were not using their honk to communicate with each other and pedestrians. We learned that the city imposed a 500 Yuan fine for honking. To our surprise, the cars were following the designated lanes. We decided to spend several hours in the city mall. The city had numerous high towers and modern infrastructure. New constructions were everywhere… Last year China consumed 1.3 gigaton of cement, emitting about the same amount of CO2, more than any country in the world. (We are still number one in terms of per capita pollution). The mall we visited had nine stories and was modern. There you could find any American, European and Chinese brand of goods. Though Chinese goods were very cheap, the American and European brands were as expensive or even more than those sold in American malls. In the US we could buy Nike shoes on sale, less expensive. I checked the price of Casio Exilim 10.1 Mega pixel, 3x optical zoom with 1 gigabyte memory card. I had purchased mine from Costco for a discounted price of $229 dollars. In the Guangzhou mall it was sold for 2600 Yuan, which was equivalent of $376. American brand electronic goods were very expensive, yet there were many Chinese customers flirting around them.


I do not want turn this article to a book, yet I have still some of my observation or facts, which I deem interesting to share. So, I will list them in bullets:


  • Wal-Mart charges one Yuan for renting to you a locker to put your belongings in before you enter the market.
  • Chinese shoes are smaller sizes. I could hardly find a few 44, or 270 mm, or 10.5.
  • Chinese cities are almost always two syllabus and Chinese names three.
  • There are 93 million with family name Wang in China.
  • Chinese use metric system. All countries, except the US, Liberia and Burma (Myanmar) have officially adopted the metric system. (How is our company?)
  • The luckiest person in Changsha, as far as the weather is concerned, is a mummy! Her preserved dead body in the museum is under constant cool air.
  • Due to the heat, men (not women) open their stomach by lifting their T-shirts upward.
  • Junior and Senior students at Lushan International and Experimental School are not supposed to have boy friends and girl friends. You do not see a boy and a girl, kissing each other, hugging each other or even holding each other’s hands on the campus.
  • Like the USA, China too has homeless people and trash-scavengers.
  • Chinese people mostly are very honest.
  • Chinese waiters and waitresses do not accept tips. But, they could not resist my insistence.
  • Cars have the right of way not the people. By law if a car hits a pedestrian while it had a green light, its driver is not considered guilty. We did not see anyone hit by cars, tough. The rule works well.
  • Wal-Mart sells live turtles and frogs in its food section.
  • I noticed that our hotel’s elevator skips the number 4. Upon investigation, I learned that Chinese consider it a bad luck, as some superstitious westerners consider 13 to be the unlucky number.
  • Bathrooms do not have seats; you need to squat on a black hole. You better carry cleaning tissues with you, since most public bathrooms do not have tissues.
  • Chinese have a funny way of translating their language to English: I took the picture of a warning poster on the Hotel wall. Its title read: Check Hotels do not forget to live fire!


So search Google or check your travel agent for a trip to China, and do not forget taking an electronic English-Chinese dictionary with you so that you may not live fire or chew your luggage!

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EDIP YUKSEL, J.D. is a progressive American-Turkish-Kurdish author/philosopher/lawyer/activist (too many hyphens and slashes, I know). His recent English books "Quran: a Reformist Translation", "Manifesto for Islamic Reform", and "NINETEEN: God's (more...)
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