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Things you probably won’t find…

Continuing to enjoy the quirky nuances of local life here, mainly in comparison to Australia.  Lots of things the same as any local neighbourhood, you have your regulars, which is nice – my fruit lady, my dumplings guy and my weekend-breakfast mama.

I love it all, seriously, and share the following with great affection.  Is it insanely interesting?  No, sorry.  Really it’s just life, it tends to go on everywhere, but it’s great fun to discover.  Warning: some of the following may conjure up potentially graphic images!  Here’s a quick and fun little collection from the last few weeks of things you probably won’t find…

In an Aussie classroom / school:

Teacher (me): “What does your father like to do?”
Students (six of them, in perfect unison): “My father likes smoking!”

Watching the washing dry with an afternoon snack, Hongkou

Watching the washing dry with an afternoon snack, Hongkou

Students burping aloud during class, at any given moment, without hesitation, embarrassment or regret.   Actually, I’ve never taught in an Aussie classroom or anywhere else – I’m sure it does happen, but didn’t really when I was at school.

While we’re at it, what Chinese students probably won’t find in a classroom – their teacher raising their eyebrows and demanding they say ‘excuse me’!  Am getting used to it though, and I must clarify – from the student’s perspective, it’s not considered or intended to be rude (as far as I’m aware anyway).  It’s just that in a country with one billion + people, someone’s always listening or watching.  So there’s really no time like the present, and no place better than right here.

Squat toilets with no doors.  Yes, squat toilets are very common in China, I’m well aware of that.  But no doors (and no flush button)?  For the student toilets anyway in my office block.   Believe or not, Google instantly came up with a search match when I started typing ‘squat toilet etiquette….’ (you know, back to the ‘door’ or back to the wall?  This is complicated stuff!!).  That’s the first and last of the graphic imagery for this post.

On the street…

People thrusting their babies in your arms, then crowding around you like the paparazzi.  If I’d known this would happen, I would have worn make-up that day. Possibly my only 15 minutes of fame, so I made the most of it by handing over my own camera.

Unexpected stree-side baby-cuddle, no complaints here!

Unexpected stree-side baby-cuddle, no complaints here!

Regular dance group, often seen outside Tesco in Hongkou

Regular dance group, often seen outside Tesco in Hongkou

Morning dance classes for the older ladies outside the huge local Tesco shopping centre (Australians, think Coles / Woolies)…even when the a scooter shop temporarily sets up camp there.

Identified salivary objects (as distinct from ‘unidentified’), either flying towards your feet or taunting you underfoot, of varying size, colour, consistency and origin.  Ok, maybe you’ll find these in Australia, and in just about every country in Europe, as far as I’m aware.  I’m just having a whinge now.

Bras, undies, socks, jocks, pants, doonas, rugs, tablecloths…everything, hanging between available trees, on the backs of chairs or for the more sophisticated, rolled out on mobile clothes hangers.  I love that privacy is largely overrated here, yet there’s nothing obscene or offensive about it (again, it’s practical and necessary).

Finding a bright and sunny spot

Finding a bright and sunny spot

And lastly, on the street…the concept of red lights being more a suggestion than a road rule to be obeyed.   For better or worse, one’s road sense sharpens very quickly over here!

Ok that’s it!  If anything else interesting pops up, I’ll let you know.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love finding out about life in China through an outsiders eyes, has always fascinated me, thanks for sharing 🙂

    October 4, 2013
  2. Kim Veale #

    What a cherub! And the baby is pretty cute too 🙂

    October 4, 2013
  3. Adam #

    So great you are sharing all this information… really good to get a local perspective. Just in case you were wondering it was a typical day in Perth but good to get a glimpse of the heat yesterday and a feeling of living in the tropics today!

    October 4, 2013
    • Hey Adam! Glad you enjoy it, thanks for the comment. Love hearing about Perth of course! Can’t believe the weather’s that warm already… 🙂

      October 4, 2013
  4. Fran McManus #

    Great to read Michelle, and get all the details of how ‘public’ and open everyday life is there

    October 4, 2013
    • Hey thanks mum, yes it’s quite different to Oz in that regards, it’s (mostly!) a pleasure to be around.

      October 4, 2013
  5. I lived in the HongKou district this summer – it’s huge, but I was trying to determine where you were watching laundry 🙂

    October 4, 2013
    • Hi Marianne,

      Yes, it is…I’m a bit further north than the Hongkou right near the Bund! Up near Jiangwan Town, Sanmen Road in particular.

      October 4, 2013
  6. Great stuff Michelle. Get’s my feet itching… Though not keen on squat toilets, since the time I looked down to see a rat looking up (expectantly) from below… (India, many years ago).

    On another matter, check out my little website,

    October 5, 2013
    • Hey Michael! Fantastic (about the website, not the rat moment. No epiphany then?). Will check it out, and thanks for reading 🙂

      October 5, 2013

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