I’ve probably mentioned (lol) that we have found our 2 years in China difficult. However it is not the endearing little quirks the rest of the world has learned to associate with Chinese “mainlanders”: spitting, peeing, pooing in the street, lack of queuing etiquette, crazy red tape, refusing to understand our rudimentary Chinese, the noise – the constant, constant noise…that have made this a hard slog. At the end of the day the quirks are part and parcel of expat life. These are the stories we will share with family and friends long after we’ve left the Middle Kingdom. Like the morning we were walking to school and an ancient Chinese man with limited teeth fell over himself trying to leap out of the bushes to try to shake our hands. We politely declined (okay, we ran like blazes) as his other hand was still fumbling to pull up his trousers.
What has most gotten to me in China is something that has bugged me since my first stint in Ningbo in 2009: the lack of soul. The total sense of emptiness.
Yes, China has an ancient culture – but everywhere you go to try and explore it there are a billion people already lining up with matching hats and flags to trample through before you. There seems to be no interest in authenticity – ancient towns are knocked down and rebuilt to look the same but out of modern materials that require less maintenance.
It’s all about the money. That goes for the expats who come here as well as the locals.
China is the Dystopia we read about as teens.