This week is a bit of a catch up as I share my Far East adventures so far. I’m in China, and I share some of the funnier/more unusual observations I’ve made so far being here, including crotchless baby clothes, sleeping in public and appreciative eating.

Also involved is a marching column of riot police.

Observations of China

I’m enjoying experiencing all the different facets of Chinese culture, whilst on my trip to the Far East. I find it fascinating how people live differently and what their customs and norms are, as well as how they deal with challenges, such as population. Once a geographer, always a geographer!

High Density Housing

Population

It’s hard to get your head around the population density of China. There are just so. Many. People. Here.

I’m staying in a city with a population of roughly 15 million people. That’s equivalent to 25% of the entire UK, or almost 4 x the population of Scotland as a whole. The figures are mind-blowing, and the challenges that come along with sustaining, feeding and transporting a population of that size are considerable.

The most obvious way this is one differently in Chinese cities is via their love of a high rise apartment block. Whilst these are found regularly in the bigger UK cities and in some rebuilt, post WW2 baby boom areas, generally, they are limited in size and area covered to maybe 5-6 in one place and under 15 storeys. In the apartment complex where I am staying here, there are approximately 20 high rise buildings, each of 32 storeys. When you do the maths on this tiny area alone, probably the size of my estate at home which has 36 houses on it.

There, you’re looking at an average of 4 people per house, so maybe a population of around 150. Here, you have 4 flats per floor, with an average rate of 4 people that puts you at around 500 per block and 10,000 on the estate.

And there is estate, after estate, after estate of these tower blocks, as far as the eye can see. I find it very reminiscent of dystopian future sci-fi films.

Chinese Mancunian Way

Crotchless child clothing/public sanitation

One of the most strikingly different things for me has been the widespread practice of entirely crotchless clothes for small children/toddlers. It is very common here for children not to wear nappies, either real or disposable, and to simply squat and pee in the street/museum/waiting room/anywhere really. This makes for some rather interesting aromas on hot days, particularly when carried out indoors, but I would wonder how a mountain of disposable nappies would be handled on the scale that would be required here.

Sleeping in Public

They absolutely love a good nap here in China, and around 1pm every day, lots of people settle down for a good old nana-nap. Now, of and by itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I mean, everyone loves a nana-nap! What make it different here is that the nana-nap takes place wherever one happens to be at the time. It also means that one may, indeed, decide to go and sit in Starbucks for their nap, as they have nice seating and air conditioning. It does not mean, however, that one intends to buy a coffee – in fact, one may go to the liberty of buying some Pepsi from Burger King and bringing that in with them, for their nap, in Starbucks, where they haven’t bought anything.

One place where I admire the dedication to the nap is Ikea. Go at the right time, and you’ll find lots of people actually road-testing the showroom beds by having a wee kip.

Over-enthusiastic appreciation of food

If you suffer from Mysophonia, this is not the place for you to visit. I an not as bothered by it as some, but there is definitely a cultural requirement here for noisy eating and slurping. This is because it shows you are enjoying the food and it’s considered a bit rude or a slight on your hosts’s hospitality if you do not enthusiastically chew.

Knitting in China

I’m hoping to visit some local yarn purveyors and find the yarn district where I am staying. If you have any good recommendation for yarn shops in Beijing/Shanghai then please let me know.

Yarn Snobbery revisited

On the knitting side, we revisit ep 114 (Yarn Snob) and I share some of the submitted entries for the remaining three categories of yarn snob.

Also, take a look at Anna Elliott’s blog post prompted by the original discussion of yarn snobbery. I loved her thoughtful approach to this subject and how she considered some of the wider aspects of the idea of yarn snobbery and inclusivity.

Join the Community

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Music for this episode used with kind permission of Adam and the Walter Boys – ‘I Need a Drink’ – available on iTunes.