Chinese ablutions

Now being British, we like to think we are very polite and we go out of our way to queue and not make impolite noises in public. Any inappropriate noise is either met with eye rolls or generally a look in the other direction as if nothing happened!

Something has baffled me since we have been in China. The ladies seem to have such high standards of personal hygiene, yet they still make such awful unladylike noises and spit everywhere. That’s just the ladies – I won’t even go there with Deans stories of what he has seen and heard!!!

Now forgive me for the topic of this blog, but I wrote this on a long distance bus journey. Shortly after getting on the bus I was nicely tucking into my pastry for breakfast. Yum…. That was until the bus driver started making stomach churning noises followed by repeated spits out the window. All of a sudden breakfast did not seem so good!

Now this behaviour is not endemic to China – indeed I think it was actually worse in Mongolia and I know from experience that it reigns supreme in other Asian countries too.

We have been staying in budget accommodation with shared bathrooms in a lot of cases. This means you witness (or hear!!) the morning ablutions of your fellow travellers. As its the ‘slack season’ as they call it, the hostels have been full of young Chinese travellers or temporary residents. In the morning it is quite common to see them literally standing in a washing up bowl cleaning their feet while vigorously scrubbing, slapping or wiping their faces. One could say this cleaning ritual means they are far far cleaner than me – not to mention a lot braver as you would not get me stood in a cold bucket of water on a -5 degree day!!!

Once you leave the hostel you run a gauntlet of spit as you walk through the streets, ducking and diving as you go to make sure you are not in the line of fire – ok I exaggerate slightly but you get the drift! Apparently during the 2008 Olympics there was a ban in place on this type of behaviour and fines were handed out to those caught in the act. I can’t help but wonder if this act of ‘throat clearance’, as I like to call it, helps or merely creates more to spit!

However far be it from me to judge a nation when I am a guest in their country. However I for one will not be adopting the ‘hoike’, spit and noises that are heard here!

– Natalie