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China can be gross sometimes

Since I’ve been here I’ve seen a parade of disgusting everywhere I go. It’s relentless and it’s exhausting. Here are just some of the notable ones:

  • As I came up the escalator from the subway, a woman was crouched on the sidewalk vomiting into a corner.
  • At least she was kind enough to do it in a corner. I walked by a guy one evening covered in vomit as friends tried to help  him get out of the way of the car honking at him. This was on the sidewalk.
  • Random piles of vomit everywhere
  • Random piles of dog poo everywhere
  • Spitting. Everywhere you go guys are hocking and preparing for big spits, which they then fling carelessly onto the sidewalk or street
  • Snot rockets are another popular pastime
  • Throwing garbage everywhere
  • Throwing garbage from tall buildings to the streets below. Feels like a confetti parade sometimes. Every morning outside my patio is a fresh batch of random trash.
  • Small children peeing everywhere. But that’s why they have crotchless pants! Still, parents pick the worst places to let their kids pee.
  • At least the older kids have the sense to go in front of the nearby tree.
  • It smells bad everywhere. The air quality apparently is much better than it used to be a few years ago, but it still stinks.
  • The gutter oil scandal.

To deal with all of this, there is an army of workers in bright colored uniforms cleaning everything. The subways are under constant care and are probably the cleanest place in the city. Still, it’s never enough to get it all, and the fact that it happens everywhere and so pervasively means that it never feels clean.

My apartment recently succumbed to the onslaught despite my efforts, and I discovered that parts of the furniture, like the back my dresser and underneath some drawers, were completely covered in mold. It explains why I’ve been coughing extensively lately, and two nights ago I only got a few hours of sleep because of the coughing. Now I get to try to figure out how to get out of my lease and get my money back for rent and my deposit. My translator talked to the landlord and someone will come by to fix the AC. But that I have to clean the mold myself, and the AC will prevent it from coming back. And that I should drink lots of water and get some medicine. I may have to say no, and that while I’ve been submitting to China for the last two months, it’s hurting me and I need to fight back.

The back side of my dresser.

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  1. scott

    The worst is the noodle vomit. In Kunming, especially, every few blocks there’d be a pile of noodles and bile on the sidewalk or in a planter. Pretty nasty…

  2. Mitch

    Ah Shenzhen. And split pants. One day I was on the bus, and someone’s little kid did a shit on the carpet floor of the bus. Watching the ticket lady trying to scrub shit out of carpet with her little broom, with the bus in motion, was surreal. Hey, what can you do? This is China!

    Spring is mold season. My theory is that the buildings are still cold from winter, but there’s all this highly humid air blowing in from the South China Sea. This leads to condensation on every stone/concrete surface. As a result, the floors are often awash. When I asked for a place with running water, I didn’t expect it to be on the floors of my living room!

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