One Fortnight in China

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You’re probably sick to bloody death of reading about China, with the Olympics coverage, and all. But, many of you guys have asked to see photos. Polite fools you.

For you guys, click on the individual cities listed here for the smoggy photos: Beijing, [tag]Xian[/tag], [tag]Suzhou[/tag], [tag]Hangzhou[/tag], Shanghai & cute English language signs.

If you’re still reading, I’ll try to document some stuff you mightn’t have already heard:

There’s not a lot of smoking in China, as you’d expect.
But there’s lots of hawking and yes, very productive spitting.
There’s no graffiti anywhere in any city.

Hotels are more luxurious than you might imagine. Showerheads rain water impressively from the ceiling. There are oversized pillows and silk comforters. There are hung flat-panel TV screens. There are do-not-disturb-light switches. Doorbells even.

Cars flaunt “Baby on Board” signs while the baby sits casually on the lap of unbuckled parent.
Baby bottoms and toddler tushes grin from deeply slitted pants—the better to go potty whenever, wherever.

The days are so hot, so humid, so white, even the aspen leaves refuse to tremble.
A fan is a necessary accessory for men and women. Boys!

Sun is the devil. It is the villain that makes perfectly normal women on scooters wear hand-made doilies for their arms and shoulders. Younger, hipper folks wear, simply, long-sleeved shirts backwards. White cotton gloves are de rigueur. So are big-brimmed hats. And, on the fashionable, iridescent sun visors that cover the entire face, like welding masks. The unfashionable swath their faces swathed in some unidentifiable garment. Umbrellas are ubiquitous. Saw more than one grafted on to a bicycle.

Construction is a 7-day, 12-hour-a-week proposition. With the workers so ready for work, they squat in makeshift housing beside the job site.
Almost all working folks tote Neoprene bottles of homemade tea.
There are people broom-sweeping the highway.
There’s plenty of WPA kind of make-work: plenty of dusting, plenty of rail polishing, plenty of weed pulling.

Cops salute drivers before demanding that they move along.
There are no road rules.

Neon races, drips, pulses on buildings in [tag]Shanghai[/tag], [tag]Nanjing[/tag] and [tag]Beijing[/tag] as it does in Times Square.
Out of the cities, cicadas seethe in the trees.
Some middle-aged men wear their pajamas on the streets.

You can push through the hordes to boost your ldl levels at KFC, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Häagen-Dazs, and, of course, Mickey Dees. Where they will look at you in amazement when you bus your own table.

According to our guide in Nanking, you can really impress your date by taking her to Pizza Hut. Would I lie to you?

And, of course, as I’ve already chronicled on Facebook, I sweated the gasps, the gapes, the gawps, gawks, the titters, twitters and slack stares as I walked the streets. Not that I wasn’t expecting it—we’ve been to Hong Kong. But. Lord. Have. His. Mercy! Zoological. I will absolutely have to write a long piece about the nudging and the pointing.

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