Tuesday, May 31, 2005

10 Bad Things About Beijing

10) Internet Access - Thankfully, it's available, but the performance is often questionable. Sometimes, it's simply impossible to reach some websites or send attachments. Due to, I assume, the imposed behind-the-scenes filters, pages don't load as quickly as they could and often seem to hang for unusually long periods.

9) Utilities - You pay for a number of increments, impossible to monitor, and when they're exhausted you're out of luck. Pray it doesn't happen on a Friday evening or you'll go the weekend without electricity or water.

8) Smoking - I'm a smoker and generally don't brag about my awful habit or complain about how much other folks might, but smoking is not really prohibited anywhere here. Sometimes, there may be obvious signs posted, although they are generally disregarded. People smoke on buses and in elevators. No problem.

7) Environment - Aside from the whiteout, which is the daily thick whiteness of the air, trash and rubbish are staples of the landscape. It's not uncommon to see an upturned garbage can or a pile of trash.

6) Spitting - Men do it. Women do it. Their kids do it. They're loud and they're proud. They do it inside or out, day or night, rain or shine. And none of it is chewing tobacco induced.

5) Restrooms - They smell bad and are scarily dark, insecty places where people like to spit (see number 7). Don't forget your TP or you're in for another surprise. The restrooms in most homes I've visited usually possess an equally strong smell, too. The plumbing lacks one of those little pipe doohickeys which traps the strong wafting odors.

4) Elevator Curfew - Our elevator stops running at about 12:30AM every day, which is perhaps a safety precaution, although we live in a guarded community, but it's incredibly inconvenient. We're not exactly night owls, but often cut our excursions into Beijing's nightlife short so we can get back to avoid climbing sixteen flights of stairs.

3) Honking - It's like the music of traffic and must be a requisite driving ability here. Most people don't even seem to noticeably respond, dulled senseless over the years.

2) Cuts - This is no place for timid souls. If you don't guard your place in line, someone will simply step in front of you.

1) Blocking - Let me off the bus, train, elevator, whatever! Then everyone can race for that lone seat. At least, it's easy to knock people back when they're trying to climb up onto the bus.

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