High fives all round because it’s not every day you get flung (some may say head first) into the middle of China with little more than your sense of (frazzled) humour!
Did I mention I had one pair of boots and a solitary jumper and winter was approaching much faster than I (clearly) anticipated! Ok, maybe I mentioned this (a few times).
Needless to say, I have survived a hardy north west winter that included minus temps most days and the occasional snow fall and I am here (with bells on) to tell the tale!
With tongue (ever so slightly) in cheek, here are a few quirky facts that I’ve come to learn about life in this spectacularly unique place, that may just surprise you.
# The entire country and all of its 656 cities are on one time zone. (Yep for an Aussie, that’s a little bit too straightforward.)
# Many Chinese today still use cash rather than cards and tend to keep their cash in their safe at home as opposed to the bank.
# There is a “bureau” (government department) for almost everything, including an ‘internet’ department.
# “Guanxi” is a very popular word. There are many things that cannot be done without “Guanxi” which means “relationship” which often translates into “money!”
# You can have a second child in Xi’an IF you or your husband are an only child.
# Xi’an is not far from the desert, hence the dust! Trucks spray the roads with water several times a day (to the tune of “It’s a Small World” no less).
# Chinese don’t do small talk. Plain and simple! Forget about “how are you?” and “Isn’t it cold today?” or “Have a nice day!” Most Chinese people are not interested in your cheery, meaningless observations…..just zip it, OK!
# “Please” is not used much in the Chinese language and saying, “Thank you” too much implies you are not friends. (Good friends don’t need to say thank you.)
# Just 20 years ago, Xi’an was a very poor city with very little in the way of technology. There were no private cars on the roads.
# Most Chinese in Xi’an today believe they have plenty of freedom, especially compared to the days of Chairman Mao, who’s Communist Party governed until his death in 1976.
# Driving on Xi’an’s roads today is frenetic (and that’s putting it politely). Despite this, there are very few accidents (oh, clearly I wrote this before the minor bingle we were involved in the other day.) I’ve reached the conclusion that Chinese people all drive terribly, well.
# For a massive population of around 1.3 billion, there are surprisingly few surnames in use today. Statistics say there are around 4000 last names but the top ten are used by about 40 per cent of the population. (If you think about it, we all know someone with the surname Zhang, Huang, Wei, Wang and Wong don’t we!)
# The first 3 numbers of your phone number represent the phone company you’re with.
# Chinese very much respect the hierarchy in any situation, even if they don’t agree. It’s not easy for a Chinese person to reveal what they really think.
# Sick babies in hospital will have an intravenous inserted in their forehead as opposed to other body parts.
# On March 15th, every year, regardless of the temperature the government turns the heating off. It’s not switched back on until November 15th.
Yep! Six months in, just a few small, random but intriguing facts about the world’s fastest growing nation.
This is China.