When it comes right down to it, it’s the little things that matter. It’s the little things that make the difference. When it comes to life here in China there are plenty of big differences, but by and large they are expected differences. Things like language and food and currency. Anybody that expects those things to be the same just wasn’t paying attention to the plane they got on or something. But it’s the things that aren’t so obvious that really get you. The things that you don’t think about. The minutiae. They are what catch you off guard and smacks you in the face a little. Here are a few of the things that have jumped out at me since I have been here.
Now, when I am talking milk, I’m not talking about anything strange and exotic like yaks milk or
something. I am talking about good old white milk from a cow. Now I have travelled to a number of different countries and I have had milk in all of them. And with the exception of the sweetened milk in Vietnam I have never been taken by surprise by milk. True, it’s been a little different everywhere but it has always had two things in common. One, it has been drinkable, and two, it’s been refrigerated.
Yes, you heard me right. The milk here is not refrigerated in the supermarket when you go to buy it. It is sitting on a nice warm shelf right next to the crackers and the something or others that I am yet unable to identify. And get this, it has a one year from date produced expiry date! Yes ladies and gentlemen, warm milk to last throughout the year. I can only assume that the expiry date shortens considerably once it’s opened. If not, then I have no idea what to make of it.
My Chinese co-worker Kicy informed me that foreigners don’t tend to like Chinese milk. So I ended up with a German brand of milk that has a warranty on it nearly as long as that of a BMW.
So, about a week ago I decided to go to a movie. The final installment of the Terminator series was playing and I found myself suddenly craving a little theater popcorn, as I do from time to time.
So, I go by the theater in the afternoon and purchase my ticket for an 8 p.m. showing. Alright. Can’t wait to get my hands on that popcorn later. I’m even going to go a little easy on supper to make sure I have room for it. But later when I get it, I am left asking, what the hell is this?
At first glance the popcorn appeared to be horribly burnt. And it was burnt. Just not horribly so. And when I tasted it I was shocked to realize that it was covered in something sweet and sticky. Caramel corn. Now I have been to theaters where you could opt for caramel corn but I had never before been to one that served that exclusively. I was crushed. My dreams of a rich buttery popcorn dashed. The horror, the horror. Now I know how Brando felt at the conclusion of Apocalypse Now when Martin sheen chopped him to bits with some giant machete. Torn to shreds I was!
Fortunately, the popcorn wasn’t too bad and the movie experience was salvaged. Phew.
My Kitchen Taps
The picture pretty much says it all. Two taps. One for hot water, one for cold. And there is only a limited “bandwith” for the water that streams from them. So, if you turn up the hot the cold will go down. And lets not get into the fact that I can push and pull the plastic water lines all over the place.
The first thing you need to know about the chicken here is that it is fabulous. Well, at least I think so. There is a little place just outside the door to school that serves up big delicious chicken legs. You can get chicken burgers, or a chicken wrap, and of course there are fries and pop. All of it is pretty normal. Yep, pretty much like any chicken joint anywhere. Except for the plastic gloves.
At first I didn’t know why on earth they had plastic gloves in the bag. I guess the girl who put my meal together was using gloves to keep her hands clean and… put them in the bag to keep my hands clean! Haha, of course. That’s actually pretty darned smart when you think of it. So, I put my little gloves on, ate my chicken, and didn’t have gross sticky chicken hands when I was done. Sweet.
So that’s a few of the little things that have jumped out me so far in my time in China. I am sure there will be many more as time goes by. Even now I can think of the amount that they use their horns, and the great number of people who want to take my picture.
If that ain’t weird, I don’t know what is.