A few cultural differences …

I was told to blog about cultural points of interest in China, and it would be remiss if I did not at least mention the bathroom situation here. It is too much a part of the China experience to ignore. China’s plumbing is not as sturdy as it is in the states, so no matter where you are, it is expected that you throw toilet paper in a basket if available. This is a fact that some of our girls forgot about. Luckily one of the girls is a top-notch sketch artist and was able to convey to the front desk that a plunger would be appreciated. Sometimes remembering to throw the toilet paper in a wastebasket is easy, being that it is commonly not provided.

This is what greets the weary traveler at most public restrooms in China.

As for the toilets themselves, well, pictures are most effective here. Thankfully our hotel, which feels very much like a western hotel, also has western toilets. There are a few differences between a western hotel and Chinese one, however. The biggest being coffee. The Voice of Nature Holiday Hotel provides complimentary slippers, toothbrush and toothpaste, combs, soaps, tea, and bottles of water, all of which are replaced daily if needed. But no coffee. There was a coffee machine available at our hotel in Shanghai, but it was part of the mini bar. Not only that, it was much more expensive to use one coffee filter in the mini bar than it was to drink two beers from the mini bar.

It's hard to follow the directions of you're walking backwards.

Another thing to point of interest is the lack of English translations for most anything. When they do appear, they are often confusing. For instance, take this sign from our hotel bathroom.

“Dear Guest: In order to reduce the environmental pollution, sincerely requested  your excellency assists us to reduce the towel, the toothbrushing gear, the soap urgently needing amount of use. Like must replace, puts in bamboo basket directly, or dials extension telephone “1200”, we wholeheartedly at your service, thank!”

So while our hotel remains a semi-familiar oasis from the bustling city of the unfamiliar, there are still plenty of reminders that we didn’t just wake up in a hotel in San Francisco this morning. Livestreaming KGLT or the Moose and Skyping friends and family members keeps most of us from getting homesick. Everyday offers the prospects of new research, new bathroom experiences, and new food. Speaking of which, I better go take my “Breakfust Voucher” down to the second floor and enjoy my complimentary breakfast of who knows what.

Shanghai's official phrase for Expo 2010, "Better City, Better Life," didn't exactly translate here.

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One Response to A few cultural differences …

  1. mark_~~ says:

    I envy you guys, I would go if I was your age too.

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