Clarabella Speaks.

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves" - Shakespeare

Saturday, 25 October 2014

7 reasons living in China doesn't suck.

Culture shock comes in different waves: the excitement phase; the homesickness phase and the I-hate-this-place phase. When you move to somewhere like China the severity of the I-hate-this-place phase is likely to be quite high (see post one in Clarabella speaks Mandarin). Luckily for me, ever since the first couple of weeks, mine now comes in daily, easy-to-handle, bite-size chunks and I barely even notice myself getting annoyed (who'd have thunk it eh?). I'm actually quite enjoying life in China, so, in the spirit of all non negative things comes today's post: 7 reasons living in China doesn't suck.

1. Everyone thinks you're beautiful. 
Of course I know the uglier truth, but it doesn't hurt your self esteem to hear "ni hen piao liang"(you are very beautiful) a few times a week. I am going to feel so unloved when I get home.

2. Cheap takes on a whole other meaning.
Where else in the world could I do my weekly fruit and veg shop for £7, travel for an hour on a bus for 20p, or get a taxi home from the other side of the city for less than a fiver? Saving on the big things (like pomegranates and sweet potatoes) leaves more reminbi for the majorly overpriced western necessities like cheese and Zara clothes. 

3. You can talk about people without them knowing.
"That woman looks so rare with that pink scarf over her head", "these people just walk so damn slowly", "this country is RIDICULOUS". Those are just some of my favourite insults, and the best bit is, nobody understands when I say them, so I can say them as often and as loudly as I like. I'm going to have to learn to control myself again next year. 

4. You don't have to talk to anyone you don't want to.
Annoying street sellers, cold callers, taxi drivers when you just are not in the mood - language barriers really can be wonderful things. And even if I do understand them (about 2 percent of the time), I can feign ignorance and continue on my way.

5. Free things.
On my first night out in Tianjin, the Club Manager gave us a free bottle of whiskey just for being white. The first time I got on a bus, the bus driver let us ride for free because he couldn't be bothered/didn't know how to explain to us how we had to pay. Okay so it only saved us 20p, but that's 2 red peppers in China.

6. Keeping fit is inevitable.
This place is so huge, that even if you use public transport you're walking enough per trip to burn off at least half of that gong bao ji ding (thats kung pao chicken for all you non-Mandarin speakers) that you really didn't need.

7. Tomato chili flatbreads.
Seriously. Its like pizza bread, but better, and it only costs 25p. Just don't eat it before putting on your pollution mask - spring onions don't make for pleasant breath. 

It couldn't get much better, right?

Viva China.


Monday, 13 October 2014

Inner Mongolilol

People say traveling broadens your horizons; it enriches your life and it opens your eyes to the ways of new and fascinating cultures. If you are feeling lost and you want to find yourself, you should travel. So that's what I did. Last week I went to Inner Mongolia, and I found myself. I found myself in a freezing cold wooden hut, peeing into a hole in the ground while chickens roamed around outside and I thought, 'WT actual F'.

Life in China is an experience to say the least, but traveling in the country is just a whole new kettle of surreal and ridiculous fish. Where else can you see Russia, yurts, log cabins, horses and pictures of semi-naked foreign girls from the one spot? Where else can you watch violent action movies on a bus that is driving on 'roads' that are still being built? And where else would you willingly get in a taxi to the middle of nowhere with a driver who you cannot communicate with?

Incidentally it is also the only place that I would venture out in leggings, a woolly coat, trainers and a fluorescent blue and yellow Nike rucksack all at the same time. Needless to say such a fetching combination did nothing to tone down my blonde haired, blue eyed Ying-guo-ren-look, and all da boyz came running. Literally. I was just sat in Shiwei, minding my own business waiting for the bus when a car pulled up, a man got out and went over to his guy palz who, obviously, pointed at me and started laughing. Next thing I know this middle-aged Mongolian/Chinese dude is invading my personal space with his arms around me and touching my face while all his friends get snap-happy with their cameras. After a cry for help, Emma got roped in too, and 5 minutes and several requests later (#popular) the bus came and saved us. Unfortunately not everyone had satisfied their white girl curiosity and some moron behind me on the bus was lucky I was quite simply not ballsy enough to turn around and punch him (feisty one I am), firstly for continuously and not so sneakily peeping his head round the side of my chair and staring at me, and then for sleeping with his hands precariously placed above my head so that every time we went over a bump (i.e about 5 times a minute) he 'accidentally' whacked me.

Thankfully though, I didn't end up in jail and I could enjoy the rest of the trip. That did, however, involve eating deep fried kidney so I do wonder if jail food would have been preferable. Either way, I saw some fabulous grasslands, got in an army tanker (SO COOL), increased my 'selfie with a chinese person' tally quite substantially and just generally survived, which let's face it is no mean feat in this crazy country. Go to Inner Mongolia, you might just find yourself peeing with some chickens.