Hong Kong Diaries 1
Feb 1 2012 3:02pm
Everything seems so easy when you’re on vacation. No work, no communting half way across the city on a over-crowded subway (there is no rushour in Beijing- it’s always me pushed up against some older Chinese woman who apparently isn’t exactly sure what toothpaste is) no, none of that, just sunshine and relaxation. Why cant life just be one long vacation? I guess that’s why they call it vacation and not life. I don’t want to be another person working till I die at a job I hate, making a bunch of assholes money while I struggle to make ends meet. All my life all I’ve heard is “you have so much potential. Why don’t you live up to your potential?” but what is that potential exactly? Can someone just tell me already? I’d like to know what this magical thing they call “potential” is because I am starting to think it’s just a nice way a teacher can tell you you’re an idiot.
What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Because living in Beijing, working at Best Learning just isn’t making me feel at all fulfilled. I want more. I want, much, much more. I want to travel the world, write about it and get paid to do just that. I want a boat and I want a husband who has the same ideas about life as I do.
I want sunshine, fresh air, nature, like minded people.. as I describe that, it sounds as if I want my long lost lover, Canada back, which in part is true. I miss Canada for many reasons and here are a few:
1) Less Spit Per Capita
I will never get used to how much spit is produced on a daily basis living in China. Yes, the air quality is bad and we are all continually stuffed up but must every single Beijinger hork huge loogies on the street?! I have to walk here! And my new fake light brown Uggs have quite the aversion to green flem. It’s like walking on mine field, playing hop-scotch to avoid the little green monsters.
2) Air. Fresh, clean air.
I guess I took breathing for granted all those years living in Canada. I never knew that was a thing, never would have guessed clean air would be a commodity sold in cans on the street of Beijing in 2013. While seeing people with masks on reminds me a post-apocalyptic movie, looking outside your window to see that you in fact cannot see anything, makes it much, much worse. I’m still in denial and refuse the face masks, knowing full well my body would thank me for it. Call me old fashioned but if I deny things are happening, they stop happening, right? Besides, wearing a mask won’t make the air pollution go away and it will ruin my lipstick.
Not only does the language barrier make it difficult to make a connection to people but even if you can make it past that, the whole living-with-my-family-until-I’m 40 isn’t the biggest turn on. Also, I know most Caucasian men really dig the petite Asian girls but petite Asian men? Not the same. I need a man, not a BFF who carries my purse and tells me how cute I am. I want a man who can pick me up and throw me around. I want a man who has more hair on his body than I do. I want a man, period.
My favourite thing about summer time in Toronto was going to Trinity Bell Woods with all my friends to smoke joints and drink beers in the grass and watch the sun set (or rise) and I really miss that. I went to a park once in Beijing and there were signs warning people to not sit, walk or lie on the grass. How am I supposed to become a famous writer if I can’t pull out my laptop and sit on the grass in a park looking pensive? I’m sure Hemmingway wouldn’t have become the famous writer he was if he too was told to “stay off the grass.”
This is a big one. Don’t get me wrong, Beijing has weekends but with this particular job I have (and pretty much the only job I can get while attending University) I don’t get to enjoy them at all. In fact, right now, I hate the weekend. I work 8-6 both days of the weekends and I dread it every Friday night. How am I supposed to network and meet hot boys with no weekend parties to attend? Sunday nights just don’t have that party like feel, mainly because most of the city has to be up at 6am the next day to get on a crammed subway and fall asleep standing up.
Not that cooking is illegal here (you’d be surprised at what is) but when it costs less to just get fried rice and tofu, why bother? It really ruins your motivation to cook up a nice meal. Not to mention, there’s no ovens in Beijing (or China) so say goodbye to all your casseroles, lasagnas, mac and cheeses, roasted veggies and shepherds pies. I never thought I’d have strong feelings towards baked goods but I do now. I miss you, cookies!
(this may fall into the “weekend”category but I think brunch deserves it’s own voice)
One of my favourite things to do on the weekend by far was to meet all my girlfriends for brunch. After a night of drinking and dancing with your friends, the best cure for it is a couple of mimosas, poached eggs and a couple of pieces of buttery toast. As everyone knows, brunch is not just for eating. It’s all about getting the scoop on last nights events (who made out with who, who wiped out in front of which bar, who went home with who, who’s ex tried to make who jealous with that skank at Wrong bar, who wound up on who’s couch fully clothed at 9am, that kind of thing) and I really miss that. I love a good poached egg but what really makes my heart sing after a night out is the girl-talk about who’s eggs might be fertilized and who’s brain feels like scrambled eggs (mine for sure).
My whole life I have been obsessed with the smell of clean laundry. When I was young and would go to my friends houses to play, I would always establish which smell went with which person. If I liked the smell, I would quickly peak into the laundry room of said friend to catch a glimpse of which detergent their mum’s were using (I believe I was the only 10 year old that pleaded for Downy for Christmas). To this day, I search high and low at foreign supermarkets in China for the good stuff (real Downy fabric softener) just to make sure I always smell like clean linen. I even went and bought perfume that smells like it. “Hi, I’m Stephanie and I’m a clean-linen-smell-aholic.” Anyway, I love the feeling of a warm, soft towel fresh from the dryer but unfortunately for the laundry-addict in me, China is sans-dryer. So my dreams of warm, soft towels and clothes are replaced with harsh realities of stiff, coarse towels that scratch more than soothe. Oh woe is me.
9) No Fake Booze
Before coming to China, I had never heard of “fake alcohol” other than the moonshine from the prohibition age but all too soon I learned the hard way. Any good Beijinger will tell you to avoid the 10kuai Mojito-man in Sanlitun because of the hangover you will endure for the next 24-48 hours after consuming said “mojito”. Why you ask would a little mojito make you oh so sick? That’s because he (and so many other penny pinching others) uses a man made alcohol, special to China. According to Park Street Imports, a leading alcoholic beverage importer, distributer and solutions provider, “It’s generally made from one of three bases: ethylene glycol, which is essentially antifreeze, attacks the kidneys and heart and is potentially fatal; methanol, which attacks the retinal nerve and can result in blindness; and isopropyl alcohol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol.” While drinking it, you have no idea what you’re consuming but the next day you definitely know. Whether it be the crying fits asking this to be your last day on Earth, the constant vomiting, the feeling of not being able to get off the couch or bed or the heart breaking head pain, you know what’s happened and you vow to never take those 10kaui shots again. While in Canada, there’s like, regulations on poisoning people so it happens like, way less often.
This list I’ve complied is only just scratching the surface of the differences between my homeland and now what I call my homeland, so I’m sure there will be round two.
Oh and just in case you thought I was exaggerating about how bad the pollution gets in Beijing, here it is on a bad air day;
thanks for reading
gypsy girl extraordinaire