Never thought I’d miss it quite so much. It just feels rather strange to be back in Canada, able to sit on my bed with my laptop and update this instead of walking 15 minutes down a dusty street, risk my life crossing the street, and pay 5 yuen to sit in a hot, smoky net bar for as long as I want. Do I really miss it that much? Not sure. I miss the food for sure! I think I am Chinese at heart. Or at stomach at least. I think I miss the simplicity of life when I was in China. I’ve been back for almost 3 days and its kind of crazy already. Too many decisions. Hmmmm.
When I was first in Xining, I wrote in my journal things that I noticed right off. I mentioned it in an email I sent out, but never elabourated.
Here were my initial thoughts:
July 11, 2006I have been noticing things which we take for granted. Like sitting toilets… while things in our dorm are not the trough with half walls we were told to expect, squat toilets they are nevertheless. Like sinks with hot water instead of lining up for hot water twice a day with a thermos. Like showers that are free and regular (ie whenever I want to go except during 2 hours Tuesday and Friday nights). Like tidy, well-kept university campuses instead of buildings falling down, broken windows, or dorm rooms falling apart and no one seems to care. Like pedestrian cross walks where cars actually stop and try NOT to hit you! Like being able to drink tap water.
Either we have it way too soft in North America or they do it tough here. Part of me wonders if it is a remenant of Communist rule – not having to care because there is no incentive? Take our room for example. It was easier (for them anyway) for them to ask us to move all of our belongings to a new room at the other end of the floor above us than for them to put up a curtain in our room that only requires a blue sheet be attached by clips. Okay. Like the building outside of our (new) window… holes, broken glass, waste of space. No one seems to even noticed. It is a whole new mindset for me. I have realised, even these last 2 days in Xining, how much I take for granted in standard of living.
They are still things which bother me about where we were. On the other hand, I might ‘understand’ them a bit more now? I don’t know if I ever will completely. When I was there, I learned that the Han Chinese are one of, if not the only ethnic group in the world who do not have a religion to call their own. They have nothing. I wonder if this is one of the reasons they were able to embrace Communism so much more readily? Either way, this combined with over 50 years of some form of Communism has been a lethal combination for the people here. There is such a pervasive feeling of learned helplessness and hopelessness here. People really do have nothing to live for.
Well, I did not mean for this to be such a depressing post. I’m just feeling rather contemplative tonight.