Dec 04

Dear China

by in Drawing & Writing

Antje tried an ATM – and was rejected. She tried a second ATM – and was rejected. She tried a third, and fourth, etcetera, ad nauseum, and at that point we had a very big “uh oh” moment.
Our entire travel budget was in her account. Everything we had for our trip was on that card. What idiots! I had an idea. “Just transfer it to my account and we’ll take it out with my card.” We needed a unique PIN number for that, though… and yet amazingly, her bank managed to text message it to her in Hong Kong. Go Sparkasse! We then logged into my account to make sure the transfer had worked. Hm. My account was blocked from online viewing until I also received a text-message PIN, a ridiculous (new) security feature. Goddamn you Sparkasse! In the end we exchanged euros. 1 euro = $10 in this country, which makes you feel like a playa! $25 for a coffee? Boom-shacka-lacka!

As for Big Buddha, he’s exactly what you’d imagine! To get to him you take a taxi, a gondola, and walk through a gauntlet of consumerism that only Disneyland can match. Lots of schoolchildren were visiting, and in Hong Kong the official school uniform is a tracksuit in light-blue, gray, and white. They look like sports clubs. Or maybe they were sports clubs? But children are children are children, and from atop the Big Buddha platform a group of girls made retching noises at the heads below them, causing a few to dance away from the expected spray. There were also two western guys in hooded sweatshirts who sat meditating in the sunlight before Big Buddha and chanted continuously. No one else was doing that.

Now, as we prepare to board our next 10-hour flight to Auckland, there’s something that needs to said about China. But first, a little-known fact about Turkey.
In Turkey it’s considered socially unacceptable – revolting, really – to blow your nose in public. Strange, huh? No one does it. How they avoid this issue is a great unknown, but they do, and they’re the better for it.
So to them, we’re a little bit disgusting. We’re cultured and all, and we’re pretty well educated, but then we calmly pull out a tissue and just gross them out. We even look at it sometimes afterwards.
Clearly this has nothing to do with race. It’s culture, full-stop.
So China, it goes like this:

“Dear China,

Congratulations on entering the world stage! You’re almost there! Keep going!
That said, stop spitting. Stop hawkin loogies all over the place. Stop hawkin loogies and then not even spitting them. That’s nasty.
Also, stop burping. That’s nasty too. And stop slurping so many foods. That’s dangerous.
And last, stop bumping. Humans are not moveable objects. Life isn’t just one big astro-crag. Walk around.



4 Responses to “Dear China”

  1. From Gavin:

    Just read this as I was about to blow my nose in the Turkish part of Cologne… phew! God job I’ve now got enough flem to spit outside my Chinese takeaway. You know, just to make them feel more homely.

    Keep the entries coming.

    Gavin, Germany.

    Posted on December 4, 2011 at 15:19 #
  2. From Brooke/Mom:

    Scary money moments. I imagine that New Zealand will be more amenable to ATM withdrawals. Love the drawings, love the story. I’m envisioning people from Turkey sniffing all the time to keep from blowing their nose–neither alternative is great,but the sniffing is more annoying :-). Travel safely.

    Posted on December 4, 2011 at 15:45 #
  3. From Eva:

    Oh no, what a desaster. And I thought, a buddha wish luck with money.
    So, it was a very luxurious coffee. I’m so sorry.

    Posted on December 4, 2011 at 19:34 #
    • From Antje:

      No worries, Eva, the coffee was normal priced: 2,50 Euro. It is just the exchange rate which is funny. So basically 1 Euro is 10 Hong Kong Dollars.

      Posted on December 5, 2011 at 01:39 #