Is It Right to Hate China? The Clampitt`s Investigate

Among ExPats, Japan is referred to as “Asia Lite.”  While shopping one gets confused as to location- there`s more English signage than Japanese and random animals of various size and denomination don`t cross the road along with the pedestrians. Cars drive in the same direction, even stopping at red lights. It could be any American city. (Except Seattle where leash laws are in place for chickens or Boaz, Al where they`re not)

Since Tokyo is so American, other Asian countries, from China to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, have Sodom and Gomorrah type reputations, inferior in every way, home to the rudest and most crass people. Entirely made of dirt. Mighty vats brewing pestilence ready to lay siege on the arriving traveler.

Since China is the current economic power house capable of copying everything but democracy, it is the heralded poster child of all things bad. Mix in bad feelings from thousands of years of fighting with the neighbors and no one has anything nice to say about China.

With this as our expectation, OS#2 and I left for China prepared to be killed on one of the sub standard Chinese manufactured trains or planes, choked by pollution, assaulted by rude, anti-American Chinese people, or poisoned with bad food.

We hadn`t flown out of Japanese air space before Air China let her safety colors fly. The safety video was still reviewing rules and regulations when we landed in Beijing four hours later. It was the in flight entertainment. OS #2 and I watched fascinated as a woman demonstrated the appropriate technique for removing high-heeled shoes and ear rings in case of a water landing. While I envisioned beating the person between me and the door with my 5 inch Jimmy Choos to speed the exit process, Air China imagined a scenario of deflated flotation devices. OS#2 was asked to place both feet on the floor and raise her window shade for take off. I expected an announcement:

“15A- have they finished loading the bags? We`re ready to push back. Please advise a crew member.”

The pilot spoke English, the video covered every possible scenario for exiting the plane including via toilet, we didn`t smell smoke- the two of us gave Air China a safety rating of “Good Enough.”

But the people. Oh the people. Wherever we went, people pulled in the welcome mat and slammed doors shut. Just look at the pictures below. Going out of their way to be rude, they followed us through the sites grinning ear to ear, asked the guide our names and where we were from, wanted us to pose for pictures, practice their English, or thank us for visiting.

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Often people would just run up beside us and someone else would snap a photo. Then they would all run off.

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A few times we took their picture after they took ours.

Hmph. Just like a bunch of New Yorkers if you ask me.

While on the subject of people, let me clear this up right now. The military police are truly nothing to worry about. Several friendly guards paraded around Tiananmen Square -like the furry hatted men at Buckingham Palace.

Here I am about to goose one for fun.

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It was so much fun I decided to do it again. The next soldier was much more friendly. He was so tickled he asked for my number. My passport number. He also wanted to see it. And just to make sure he could find me again in this city of 22 million, he requested my American Driver`s license. So thorough, he wanted to see my Chinese Visa to see how long I`d be in town. He made sure to get all my particulars. The picture just doesn`t show off his sweet side.

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Chairman Mao on the entrance to the Forbidden City. The real Chairman Mao was actually on the opposite side of Tiananmen Square in a glass coffin. If I`d had my glasses cam I may have been able to sneak a pic but at that point I had been assigned a military escort. The North Koreans have learned what a tremendous tourist draw General Mao has been and are now working on a similar site for Kim Jong Ill. I wonder when they`ll realize that tourists are a key component to success in the equation.

Wait- I`m off topic and headed toward politics. Back to it.

Food.

Since OS#2 and I were certain to face certain death or imprisonment in this communist haven, we rolled the die and ate their notoriously poisonous food. Supposedly only a trip to Mexico is a better guarantee of death by diarrhea. It was here that we lost our guide.

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Noodles in spicy black bean sauce, spring rolls, chicken with 100 peppers, and pickled radish.

Fatal or not, it was certainly delicious on the way down. Since OS#2 and I survived until dinner, we kept the breakfast bars stashed and took another gamble. The genuine Peking Duck. In Peking. Which I didn`t know was Beijing until this trip. Apparently I am as ignorant as others claim.

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Not just for cooking pizza.

I would have loved a better picture but at this point everyone in the restaurant was taking a picture of me ogling the ducks. Having never been the center of attention I was unwilling to give up the spotlight, OS#2 saw it differently, pulled a giant hook out of her purse and yanked me out of the restaurant. As I was mid pose, I had to snap on my way out.

The Chinese do work all the time diligently holding fast to a Communist culture robbing them of all fun. Therefore, a toboggan ride was installed at the Great Wall to encourage Chinese tourists to get to the bottom and back to work as soon as possible. I couldn`t take pictures on the way down because OS#2 was not convinced she actually wanted to go down via toboggan. I offered to go first in case crashing in to me was the only way to slow her descent- I needed to hang on.  Next vacation I`m adding the helmet cam to the packing list for situations just like this….

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Contrary to what the Chinese claim, the Mongolians were not kept out by the Great Wall. As you can see, even their savage reputation has been exaggerated over the years.

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Pollution? I could see everything within 50 feet of me just fine.

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View of the Forbidden City from top of hill

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All kidding aside. Expecting other cultures to behave like your own always creates a disappointing vacation. The saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” best describes the attitude travelers need to adopt outside one`s own culture. Being open, non judgemental, and keeping a sense of humor will also prevent the natives from viewing you as your country`s negative stereotype.

Usually.

We loved China.

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35 Responses to Is It Right to Hate China? The Clampitt`s Investigate

  1. seanossu says:

    Wonderful post!

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  2. seanossu says:

    Reblogged this on seanossu.

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  3. Bob says:

    I’d always wondered what China would be like to visit. Thanks for the insight!

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  4. 2summers says:

    Great post. But I want a yes or no answer to the title.

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    • Thanks Heather. I went back and sort of edited to answer. The truth is that it is very dependent on being able to adapt to their culture. We Americans can adapt fairly well because Chinese are a lot like Americans- they yell in to their cell phones on air planes and trains- just like North easteners on trains from DC to NY, they`re not shy like the Japanese, and they are curious so they will look at you. On the other hand, Facebook isn`t available, certain topics are absolutely off limits and people will not talk about them- out of fear of repercussions- like Tia Square. You can tell you are in a communist country.But in spite of that, it has 3000 years of amazing culture and I wish we could have gone all over.

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      • L Morgan says:

        “We Americans can adapt fairly well because Chinese are a lot like Americans” – ha ha, this was how I always thought when I lived in China. American expats often got on very well in China.

        I’m British btw. Though I did enjoy my time in China, I did sometimes find things a little loud and people VERY forwards. When I visited Japan, I felt like everyone was a bit more like people back home…

        I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to China. I simply adore Japan and would love to live there.

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      • Funny right? I think that is one of the reasons Brits do so well in Japan- many similarities it appears!

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      • Troo says:

        I agree with L Morgan – We Brits seem to get along very well in Japan! So many commonalities 😀

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      • True- the only problem Brits have in Japan is that no one understands the British sense of humor. It might be subtleties in language make it hard to translate and understand. But so true- very polite and nice people!

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      • Troo says:

        Oddly it’s very similar to the Japanese sense of humour – right down to the mutual love of appallingly bad puns 😀

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  5. Lisa Cideciyan says:

    One of your best posts (and they’re hard to beat)!

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  6. CSI Susie says:

    YES on the pic of you with the Mongolian guys- that is the best facial expression ever. And your coat and boots- adorbs. Oh, wait- this is political? My only comment is if you came home without losing those boots or pooping your pants, I’m in.

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  7. I laughed reading this post. After about three years in rural Japan, my daughter was feeling claustrophobic and burned out on the “yes might mean yes, maybe, or no” communications with her Japanese coworkers and neighbors. When vacation time rolled around, she chose to go to Beijing and had the time of her life. She’d been warned by her Japanese colleagues that the Chinese were rude, corrupt and would rob her blind if she didn’t end up murdered in a ditch (seriously, that’s what her supervisor told her). The Chinese she met however were kind, friendly, and generous; even the police were helpful, and she’d been worried about crossing some invisible line that would result in her being thrown in prison for the rest of her life. She also said she never had a bad meal there, which your photos support. Yes, being open and non-judgmental makes you a better traveler, but China has long been a great place to visit, regardless of what rural Japanese schoolteachers think. 😉

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    • Westerners here also have a similar view expecting the Chinese to behave like the Japanese. Culturally they are very similar and very opposite neh? The Chinese are a lot like Americans in certain ways. Great story!

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  8. loobielooe says:

    Brilliant! I especially love the bit about the flight attendants telling you how to cope in a water landing!

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  9. Is that you photo bombing the military police? Nicely done!

    Did you get to walk along the Great Wall? Are there a lot of Western tourists or mostly tourists from Asia there?

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    • One was a photo bomb and the other was a disaster which I would not recommend.

      We went all over- in 4 days. Grace and I were the only two Westerners in Xi` And- we were literally followed around. There were much more in Beijing although I wouldn`t say there were many. Judging from the curiosity we aroused I`m guessing their still not real used to Westerners. Although in Hong Kong and Shanghai it`s completely different. Most foreign companies are headquartered in Shanghai thus lots of ExPats etc.

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  10. Dana says:

    I think that photo of you with the Mongolians is one of my favourite EVER. I’m still trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to “blend in” with the Americans here in AZ. I’ve stopped doing the thing that immediately identified me as a Canadian (i.e. whipping out my Airmiles card at Safeway and Shell stations), but we still use our turning signal when driving (CANADIAN!) and I still say ‘hey?’ at the end of nearly every sentence, which ALWAYS gets mistaken for ‘eh’. 2 weeks left to practice before heading back home! 🙂

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    • The accent gives away a Canadian every time! There are several Canadians at the kids` school here. It makes me laugh when I hear them. Love AZ- we lived in Scottsdale for a year. LOVED it!

      Like

      • Dana says:

        Same with the States, though– the Canadian accent varies widely from coast to coast. East Coasters sound WAY MORE exaggerated than us (refined) West Coasters do. Think of the difference between a New York and an Oregon accent. 🙂

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  11. Ariana says:

    My mom is Russian living in America visited China few years ago and she said it was the best trip she ever took. The people, the service , the food – everything was wonderful. At first they tried to speak English with her, once they found out that she could speak Russian, some of them would start practicing their Russian..

    Like

  12. Troo says:

    This is without a doubt one of the most amusing posts I’ve ever read. Excellent job!

    Curse those warm, friendly Chinese people and their welcoming country!

    Like

  13. angrygaijin says:

    Lol~ Wow – there is a fine streak of sarcasm running through this post.

    Glad you had a good time! 🙂

    Like

  14. This really was a fantastic blog on China. Really Enjoyed reading it 🙂

    Like

  15. kaikaisensei says:

    Oh gosh the photo thing bothered me so much in China! It wasn’t so much people asking for pictures (since I’m not white), but more of them getting in the way of me taking any good ones >_<
    China has to be the #1 country for unintentional, but rude photo bombers. It really burned my buttons.

    Like

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