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May 17, 2005

Funny Things from China


Hi everyone - Aimee here. Don't want to send too much text in one day, but we have a connection and I've been wanting to send this little piece. In addition to laughing our asses off, Nate and I have been trying to keep track of all the funny things we’ve seen/experienced. Below is a partial list that you may find funny (either b/c they are new to you or perhaps b/c you have experienced them).

Assless Pants

Funny1Babies wear "assless" pants (imagine a big rip down the seem of the back of their pants - see picture) so that they can urinate/shit when they need to. For ex: Nate saw a mom holding her baby over a planter while he pissed. It’s really quite a funny site - a toddler dropping bombs on the street. Even funnier would be "curb your baby" signs like we have in SF for dogs.


Funny2Speaking of urinating... They have no doors on the stalls in many public bathrooms. Not only that, but the partitions, if present at all, are rarely more than 1-2 ft high. Although I had read about this before experiencing it, it doesn’t prepare you for the real thing. I have been ""on stage" while peeing before - In Laos the bus pee breaks involved the bus pulling over and everyone squatting on the side of the barren road. Knowing this, I always had a skirt on, but China is another story (and I’m not always wearing a skirt). There are 2 kinds of situations I’ve been in 1) the row of pits/toilets facing the bathroom doorway and 2) the row of pits being perpendicular to the door. The first allows absolutely NO privacy. You and the person next in line are eye-to-eye. Real nice. The second is a little better b/c you can go down to the last one and get at least some "privacy" while you are peeing, but pulling down/up your pants is still a public affair since those damn partians are so low. Today it was only me and a local woman in there. She stared at me the whole time and I laughed in my head thinking about what must have been

more odd to her - a westerner peeing, my thong, or my tattoo that takes up a good portion of the side of my ass. In either case, I think we both went home with a story. The ultimate utilitarian bathroom experience is the open room with a long trough running against the back wall. PIck a spot, squat and pee. Don't mind all the other people in the room who are doing the same. See pic for more details on the Chinese bathroom experience - this is taken from the perspective of someone waiting for a pit.

Meat, Inclusive

Funny3They really do eat dog here (in some provinces anyhow). In fact, they don’t waste a single damn thing - duck chin, braised pig belly, sautéed chicken feet, etc have all been found on menus. Nate has been a vegetarian throughout most of the trip since the meat that he does eat is often in an less "preened" state. He says "they cut it the wrong way" - I call it the "Itchy and Scratchy" cut (if you’ve seen the Simpson’s you’ll know what I mean, they just cut it lengthwise with the bone still in and the marrow sticking out). Some other funny menu items were found on the menu in the picture -- yummm!

Personal space and queuing

There is such inconsistency with the whole queuing up thing. Some people will cut you off unless you are right up on top of the person in front of you  - some of these "line cutters" aren’t even in the line. THey just walk in from on where and "bamn" they are at the desk and you're standing there like an idiot. For ex: I was in line at the airport and the person up at the counter bent over to put their luggage on the scale and someone came out of nowhere and handed their passport and tickets to the agent. The agent served them like it’s wasn’t a problem and no one else said a thing. Crazy. Other times people will yell at someone doing this or they will even let you go ahead of them. B/c of this it makes it hard to really hold your ground w/o feeling like an asshole. After losing my spot countless times in line for the ATM, hotel checkout, bathroom, etc I have learned to not give an inch of personal space. One other funny thing is trying to get out of an elevator while a group of Chinese are getting in - that just makes sense to let people out before you in, no???

Public Exercise Equipment in Playgournds

In cities, there are lots of outdoor community spaces for all ages (similar to our playgrounds). They are amazingly inclusive and it’s really fun to observe all the activity. Included are all the usual kiddy things, along with ping pong tables & outdoor fitness equipment. The fitness equipment is the same big old clunky metal that the palyground stuff is made of (we're not talking nice, high-end equip outside) and even painted with primary colors. "The old people LOVE the exercise equipment - you have to see them on the elliptical trainers & these twist-machines! They are so damn cute. (picture of this coming still)

Brother - Soccer - Six!

The language barrier is pretty thick here. Recently, Nate and I have realized that we are talking like those people in the T-Mobile ads who  are trying to reduce their airtime minutes (ya know the "brother-soccer-six!!" ads). We try to reduce everyting to one or two words to convey what we want - just a minute ago I called the front desk and said "bottle opener" instead of  "hi, I need a bottle opener please". I finally got what I wanted after talking to three people and reducing my original request to "beer" and "open". Typically, I can *try* to speak the language, and I do, but Mandarin is too tonal and people don’t know what I what I am saying (I have about 10 words and that’s it).

Funny English/Chinglish T-Shirts

Chinese people wear t-shirts with English on them that make no sense whatsoever. I doubt many of them know what they say at all. For example, in a protest march we saw a lady of about 65 yrs of age wearing a shirt which read "sexy girl" in rhinestones. Many others contain funny sayings that most often contain broken English or concepts that don’t really translate or words that are off by a letter. Yesterday in Kashgar, I saw a guy about my age with "Century 21 Doritos" shirt. I think we have some pix of these which we will post sometime. It's fun to see since in the US there are so many asian printed things - many of which who knows what they say. Paul Frank had a good one out a few years ago - it was a t-shirt with japananese on it that read "I'm a stupid American tourist". On that note, I feel a little funny walking around with my chinese tattoo but no one seems to say much. I actually get more of a reaction from Chinese Americans than I do here.

May 17, 2005 at 09:32 PM | Permalink


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Do they really use their left hand in place of toilet paper?

Posted by: Chanel | May 18, 2005 11:10:29 AM

Thanks for the entertaining stories - can't wait to hear more - love

Posted by: barbara | May 19, 2005 8:55:07 PM

My Taiwanese wife read this; and didn't understand what you guys found so disturbing. :)

It really reminded me of our trip to Taiwan - Roasted Chicken-Butt Kabob; squatty-potties; and the foul stench of stinky tofu. Stay away from that stuff at all costs - it's nasty. Smells like a septic tank. (My wife doesn't agree; but she didn't grow up with a septic tank. When she was little, she grew up with people pissing in the streets of Taiwan. But at least they wore ass-full pants there: China seems so uncivilized in comparison.)

Was anybody talking on the cellphone in the squatty-potties?

Have they learned to keep their mouth's closed when they chew; or do you get to watch the mastication first-hand?

Posted by: Ryan | May 20, 2005 11:07:39 AM

hey ryan, nice to hear from you. we'll have to compare more stories when i get home. it's definitely been interesting and fun. i didn't see anybody on the phone, but we'll have to ask aimee. as for mouths closed, well, i would just say that personal space and personal noises were both different than home. slurping noodles i actually sorta like, and definitely played along with. one funny noise was yawning. when a plane would land, somebody would always let out a very loud, exaggerated yawn that certainly the whole plane could hear. i've been know to do that sometimes around family or friends to let them know how i was feeling, but it was new to me on a public plane.

all and all, a great trip.

Posted by: nate koechley | May 20, 2005 8:19:24 PM

When I was a baby, my grandma always let me wear assless pants.

Pretty good and natural thing for the earth than diaper.

Posted by: Hedger | May 21, 2005 11:04:48 AM

Hey Hedger,

Yeah, it makes total sense. Everytime I saw them, I thought of the western landfills overflowing with plastic disposable diapers... The only thing I don't understand (having never been a parent) is how do you know "when" the kid needs to go? It seems like you'd almost need to be toilet trained to make it work.

(For the record, I was raised in cloth diapers, so no landfill contributions from me on that front)

Posted by: nate koechley | May 21, 2005 10:10:40 PM

a few comments:
- I guess nyc and China aren't too different; when I lived there, it was not uncommon to see a mom holding her kid over a planter to go to the bathroom
- my favorite toilets in China were the ones where all the toilets fed into a "river" that flowed downstream - very gross being at the bottom of the river. I finally figured out why everyone smoked when they went to the bathroom - to cover up the smell.
- the line cutting thing drove me nuts! but i have fond memories of airplanes there - I have never seen more efficient boarding. And the second the plane touched down, you would see people *running* down the aisle.
- I gave up trying to speak Chinese (except saying numbers) once I realized I was telling everyone they couldn't speak Chinese (rather than saying I couldn't speak it)

Glad to hear you guys are having a good time :)

Posted by: Wendy | May 23, 2005 8:31:14 AM

I hate to tell you, but the bathrooms in India might be worse than (or equivalent to) the ones you experienced in China.

Posted by: Shivani | Jun 6, 2005 10:56:33 AM

hey guys!

dunno if you saw this... on our bike trip to the great wall, one of the driver's children was wearing the assless pants. i had seen them many times before but that was the first time i had seen them being "used". turns out they became a bit soiled during use, so the wife took the pants off her child and washed them in the nearby river. then she just let them dry while the child ran around with nothing but a t-shirt on the rest of the day.

one thing's for sure: they definitely work as potty training. i've never seen any child in china wearing the assless pants - only infants.

btw aimee, what does your tattoo say?

hope y'all are livin it up!


Posted by: vkdir | Jun 9, 2005 7:16:47 PM

Godliness is measurable only in terms of service to humanity

Posted by: basith | Jun 11, 2005 8:58:52 AM

Interesting post... wrt the t-shirts, well, at least they aren't scarring themselves permanently with idiotic mistakes like the ones found here... http://www.hanzismatter.com

Posted by: mike | Apr 1, 2006 7:01:28 AM

Actually china is the first country to use paper. They invented first toliet paper in AD 1391. America didn't have their toilet paper until 1857. So for those long time gap, when chinese go to restroom with paper, imaging what America's use? They use stick, corncob,mussel shell, leaves . :-)http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_373.html

Posted by: Jenny Laugh | Aug 1, 2006 3:49:12 PM

About the eat dog, I think the biggest problem facing America and the rest of the world is a lack of TOLERANCE! I'm not putting a gun to your head and forcing you to eat horse, dog, cat, cow, pig, or broccoli. Why should you be allowed to tease or stop me from eating what I like? I have Jewish friends, they don't stop me from eating pork. i don't try to force them to eat it.

America was a land of tolerance. We accepted people of every race, creed, and nationality. Can't we accept what they have on the dinner plate? Why must some try to transform others into an image of themselves. This is what starts wars people.
I say "Be an American" accept your neighbor for who he is. If you object to what he has for supper offer a polite "No thanks" and eat at home and keep your opinion to yourself.

Posted by: Jenny Laugh | Aug 1, 2006 4:25:52 PM

i own a chinese and no one complains when i serve them dog or cat they eat it coz its cheap. fanks yoi kwon zib

Posted by: bob hoskins | May 4, 2007 3:15:57 AM


Posted by: Stephanie | May 6, 2007 6:51:01 AM

it is like sooo boring and there is nothing funny

Posted by: Joann | Nov 17, 2007 1:43:34 PM

Who the Fuck wrote that down? You fuckin asshole. Who do u think u r? Son of bitch.
Wut's so funny?ey? The most funniest thing is that u ve low iq Omg, laugh at us the most intelligent people. Go home and study more history instead of writting shit here.

Posted by: Vincent lee | Feb 24, 2008 6:43:01 PM

Funny China !
Somethings from china ,it's funny
You're great !

Posted by: 123 | Nov 24, 2008 7:38:13 PM

I dunno HGV is all the same for driver training

Posted by: sean hgvlgvtraining | Sep 29, 2009 12:49:15 PM

I just recently returned from China (2nd trip) and generally find the people rather civilized except for the lineup thing (which is totally true)...with regards to dog meat...they are farm raised dogs very similar to cows...they dont come up to you wagging their tail...they have no dog like personality....its not like the Chinese are eating the family pet. With regards to toilets...i found them to be pretty similar to the ones I found in italy (i never experienced partitionless washrooms) except in Shanghai which were comparable to New York and Tokyo. There is a big difference from modern large cities like Shanghai to the older less world class cities. That being said...China definitely takes some getting used to but I think they find the same thing about our countries

Posted by: paul | Feb 9, 2010 10:14:43 AM

It is true and very funny.
They are not so polyte in public places.

Posted by: a | Apr 7, 2010 4:37:33 AM

Ahhh. I forgot to say. Chinese drivers really do not know how to drive.
All the time they do stupid things on the traffic.

Posted by: a | Apr 7, 2010 4:41:38 AM

I think its just a culture shock. You can't judge another person's culture when you compare it to your own. When you think about it, don't you think its eco-friendly for Chinese people to eat the parts of animals that other people dare not eat? I mean, for Americans to just eat chicken breast...how about the rest of the chicken, just throw it out? What a waste. I'm not here to bash about your experiences, but I simply think you just went to many rural parts of China. If you visit Hong Kong, you would probably have a better experience.

Posted by: D | May 25, 2010 5:29:00 PM

I am so offended, I am chinese

Posted by: coco | Jul 3, 2010 2:52:03 AM

Some really funny stuff here dude. I've just come back from China and some of the things I found funny cannot be mentioned on a blog.

Its without a doubt a culture thing. The role reversal would be exactly the same if anybody from Asia visited the UK.

Posted by: Paddy HGV Licence | May 15, 2011 7:28:58 AM

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