MY TIME AS A JET

HONG KONG / SOUTHERN CHINA
MARCH/APRIL 2000
CHINGLISH, GENERAL OBSERVATIONS AND LINKS


Hong Kong & China trip part 1
Hong Kong & China trip part 2
March in Japan
April in Japan

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Chinglish

"Chinglish" is the Chinese equivalent of Japlish. Here's the small collection that I accumulated during my visit...

WASH YOUR HEAD
Apparently this was a sign in the toilets at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. I didn't see it myself though, so I'd appreciate it if someone could let me know whether it really exists.

NO OCCUPYING WHILE STABLING
Sign on door to toilet on a train

T-shirt shop sign
Sign outside a T-shirt shop in Yangshuo.

T-shirt
A T-shirt from the same shop.

Shang Ri-La
In the romantic legend story.A place of peach blossoon flourishing. Almost send the care of people's of China the dream.
The legend orly leaved on paper.
But,in Guilin China ,almost from GuiHua road to Yangshuo.There have a place much beautiful much true then peach blossoor land-ShangRi-La.
Smoke rain,all mountain and land are green grass,mountain flower,cave,wood house.It's toward a Nationality noble character wind and rained bridge .And float in the bamboo's ballad.
All of happy and all of tired can find a place where a person really bdory.
Full materna instinc-ShangRi-La is that many many years ago in Guilin,left home town's girl.They come back now.They are already grewed a pretty girl.
An advertisement from the Yangshuo map. None of us had any idea what this one was trying to say!

Engine room is serious place
On the hydrofoil we took up the Yangtse.

NO PARING
Notice in car park by the Shennong stream (Three Gorges side trip).

SHOWER CAT
COME
NEEDLE WOKE DAG
Items provided in the Wesun Hotel, Wuhan.

Don't leave the roomkey into the lock
er, if you need open your room please
show your room card to get the key.
keep the relationship with the front
desk.
Instructions at the same hotel. Still, at least they gave us something in English, which is more than the hotel in Hangzhou did - despite their claim that they "welcome international tourists".

Stand-by tickets
The stand-by ticket window in the airport at Wuhan. I think what it means to say is that you can buy tickets 30 minutes before take-off.

LOVE CAN TOUCH US ONE TIME
AND LAST FOR A LIFE TINER
AND NEVER LET GO TILL WE'VE ON
On the cover of a notebook. Presumably it's supposed to be the lyrics of "My heart will go on" (Titanic song).

Promote Elegance of Old Hotel
Display Metropolitan Feelings
In the window of the Nanjing Hotel, where we stayed in Shanghai.

Nanjing Hotel offers Favourable place to enjoy business, tourist and meeting by means of organic combination of traditional taste and modern flavour, and assembling favourable climatic, geographical and human conditions in development of metropolitan tourism.
Multifunction Hall
It is a colourful world where you may have a family or friend get-together and even sing or dance trippingly while you enjoy the delicious dainties.
Shanghai Town
Here is a galaxy of delicacy, where boasts fragrance, famous chefs and careful selection of stuffs.
Chrysanthemum Hall
Where delicious dainties, tender feeling, drink to your heart's content and family get-together are satisfied fully.
Double Room & Suite
Comfortable and elegant room full of tender feelings. You may enjoy unusual metropolitan feelings of relaxation and sketch utmost sentiment.
Twin beds Room
Simple & bright, silent & fragrant
You may nourish your spirit and store up vigor for getaway in the next day or several friends have a chat.
Meeting room
Information may be sent or received freely
unlimited business opportunities are revealed to the fullest.
Corridor
It is arranged spaciously and in bright style, elegant style enhances the metropolitan feelings much more.
Extracts from the leaflet advertising the Nanjing Hotel. (The hotel itself was fine though.)

TIMELY RINSE AFTER USING
Sign in a toilet cubicle at Shanghai (Hongqiao) airport.

General observations

Good things about China

  • Feeling of discovering the undiscovered
  • Great scenery
  • Great local guides (Yangshuo & Yangtze)
  • Great markets - and especially night markets
  • Sense of community, for example when you go to the town square in the morning or evening and find huge groups of people ballroom-dancing or practising t'ai chi (spelling?)
  • Pineapple on sticks (only 1 yuan!)
  • Virtually no sexual harassment (unlike some south and south-east Asian countries)

Not-so-good things about China

  • Methods of rubbish disposal (dump it in the street or throw it out of the train window)
  • Pollution - especially in cities
  • Spitting and smoking
  • Over-use of car/bus/motorbike horns - pedestrians and cyclists occupying the middle of the street are so accustomed to being blasted at by vehicle horns that they generally just ignore them and don't make any effort to get out of the way. (I read that their use has been banned outright in Chongqing though.)
  • Being stared at as if you have two heads (the minus side of the "feeling of discovering the undiscovered")
  • Being pestered by locals trying to sell you fruit / postcards / canned drinks / trinkets, even though you've told them politely but firmly - ten times, in both Chinese and English - that you're not interested
  • Communal toilets - they are single-sex, but often consist of just a concrete platform with three holes in it - and sometimes they don't even have a door to speak of! Some of them smell pretty foul too - a bit of Tiger Balm round the nose can be helpful in such cases.
  • Not a lot of wildlife in evidence - at least, not where we were.
  • Ungummed stamps - the post office will provide a pot of paste, but you have to glue them on yourself.

Toilet in Puyi
One of the less sophisticated toilets I used in China. Next door was, quite literally, a pigsty. Still, at least it wasn't communal, didn't smell totally nauseating, and had a door that just about closed!

Miscellaneous observations
Some of these may be useful to other visitors to China; others are just truly miscellaneous things that we noticed.

  • Bare-bottomed babies
    Chinese babies, particularly in rural areas, rarely wear nappies (diapers). Previously this was because they weren't available in the shops, but nowadays I think it's more a matter of cost. I read that in China, toilet-training starts at the age of one month and is normally complete by the time the child is a year old. Instead of a nappy, a child wears trousers which have a split, exposing his or her bottom (must be a bit chilly in winter!). When the baby is young, the mother uses a piece of cloth for protection; for toddlers, it makes it easy for them to squat whenever - and wherever - they feel the urge.

  • Legwear
    Bare legs are a very rare sight in China. Women, if they wear skirts, always seem to wear tights with them. Often these are wrinkled-at-the-knee, 40 denier ones in a fetching shade somewhere between coffee and yellowish orange. Men were wearing thermal leggings under their trousers when we were there, even though the temperature was quite comfortable - unseasonably warm, I think. Maybe their attire is dictated by the calendar rather than the weather, as is sometimes the case in Japan.

  • Suit jackets
    Almost everyone seems to wear a suit, or at least suit-type jacket and trousers, all the time. (Ties aren't so common though.) Even porters carrying heavy loads up mountains will often be dressed in this way.

  • "Hello!"
    You frequently hear someone shouting "hello!" (often followed by a chorus of giggles) and realise that it must have been addressed to you since there are no other foreigners in sight, but when you turn around to respond in kind, nobody seems to be looking in your direction.

  • Hotel "key for power" system
    In all the hotels we stayed in, there was a "key for power" slot inside the door. In most hotels you had to slot in your keyfob or card-key; in one or two there was a piece of plastic sitting loose in the slot and you had to push it home to make the lights and power sockets in your room work. A good energy-saving device, and the keyfob ones also made sure that you didn't lose your key, at least while you were in the room.

  • Traffic control
    - what's that? Horns are used constantly (see above), pedestrian crossings are purely for decoration, and traffic lights are ignored by everything smaller than a car - unless, as at some busy city junctions, there is also a guard on duty to restrain the cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

  • Luggage X-rays
    You're often required to put your luggage through an X-ray machine, like those at the airport, when you go into a railway station.

  • Tickets for tags (and vice versa)
    When you get onto a sleeper train, there is a conductor standing by the door to your carriage. You give him or her your ticket and are given a plastic tag in return. (The tag shows which is your berth, but then so did the ticket.) You have to keep this tag; shortly before you get off, the conductor will come round again and give you your ticket back in exchange for it. Usually you have the show the ticket to get out of the station. It seemed to me to be just another task to keep someone employed, but a visitor my site has since pointed out to me that this way, the conductor knows who is getting off at which stop and so can make sure that passengers are awake in time without bothering those who aren't getting off yet.

  • More assistants than customers
    Visit any shop - especially a department store - and as you browse you will have someone constantly breathing down your neck. There always seem to be at least twice as many assistants as customers. In some larger shops, when you select something to buy and take it to the counter, the clerk will fill in a ticket and send you to pay at another counter. When you pay the clerk there, you'll get a receipt, then you can go back and pick up the goods from the original counter.

  • Currency
    The currency may officially be called yuan (pronounced "ywen") or renminbi (often shortened to RMB), but most of the time "kuai" seems to be used instead. Notes are used far more than coins. One jiao is a tenth of a yuan, and there's another unit that's a tenth of a jiao but I've just checked the coin and the name isn't given in characters that I can understand. Most negotiations take place in whole yuan anyway. You probably won't have to use the smaller units except in fixed-price shops such as supermarkets.

  • Bones (and other bits)
    The fish will have bones, of course, and will probably have head, fins and tail still attached as well. The chicken will be less recognisable, but will still have lots of bones and you might be hard-pushed to find much edible meat. Also don't be surprised if the head and claws turn up in the dish. You'll see market stalls selling nothing but trays of chicken claws of different colours (and presumably flavours). Even pork will sometimes be bony.

  • Cooking dog on the market
    It's not a myth; the Chinese - in certain regions, at least - really do eat dog. I saw them cooking dogs with blowtorches on the market in Yangshuo. In case you're in Yangshuo and want to avoid - or see - this sight, it's in the lane going up the opposite side of the market hall to the fish market. It was even on the menu at Lisa's, on the "local specialities" page, but I seem to remember that it was quite expensive and had to be ordered in advance, so you're unlikely to get it by accident!

  • Rats on sticks
    Another of the less attractive sights I saw was in Fengjie: a man carrying a shoulder pole with about a dozen dead rats suspended from each end. I believe he was selling rat poison and this was his evidence of its effectiveness!

Links

Intrepid Travel - the company I travelled with.
Shenzhen page - Shenzhen is the city that borders onto Hong Kong.
The China Room - information, advice and suggested itineraries from an individual traveller.
Silk and Sushi - A detailed account of a journey going southwards through China. (Also includes a tour of Japan.)


Click here to go to part 1 of China trip
or here to go to part 2 of China trip
or here to go back to March in Japan
or here to continue to April in Japan

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© Lynne Donaldson
This page last edited 9th May 2005