Chinas obsession with its phones

Every traveller who visits China will say the same…”Chinese people are obsessed with their phones”.

And they are correct. On the bus, everybody has their noses stuck in their phones. In a restaurant, in a cafe, in a park, in the metro. Everywhere. It’s actually quite terrible to look at. 6 people in the metro sitting together and every single one of them is on the phone, oblivious to what is going on around them. The amount of times people bump against me because they are too busy looking on their phones while walking I can’t even count. When parents take their kids to a restaurant and all of them are on their phones, even the kid! On the bus, the parent will be sitting with their child and the the mum/dad have their face stuck to the phone constantly, while the child just sits their quietly….. not getting any attention whatsoever from their parent. It’s really quite sad to see.

But that is the reality now in China. They are absolutely obsessed.

We recently went to a bar and our friends had a thing connected to their phone. We didn’t know what it was. They replied that the bar rents out power banks so you can charge your phone. Our Chinese friend who was with us said “That’s exactly why Chinese people are addicted to their phones”.  So they don’t even have to worry about their battery running out; just rent out a power bank for 1 hour and they are good to go!

While myself and my fiancé were in McDonalds, a girl and boy couple sat beside us. As soon as they sat down, out whipped a phone and the girl started playing a game on it, of course with the sound turned on really loud! Then the boyfriend took it off her and for the whole time we were there, he was sat there playing with his phone….. while the girlfriend hand fed him chips.

So he was busy playing the game while the girlfriend just sat there looking around her. Sometimes he would say something (i’m not sure if it was to the girlfriend or just to himself), but apart from that, there was no interaction with them at all. Then to make things worse, he had a big smudge of mayonnaise on his face and not once did the girlfriend mention to him/ clean it off him!!

Me and my fiancé were just there sitting there looking at them in disbelief. No communication between the pair of them…… mayonnaise on the guys face….. girlfriend didn’t even bother telling him….????? Honestly we couldn’t get over it at all.

How can these people become so addicted to their phone? We know other Chinese friends and they are the same; stuck to the phone… even when they are with a group of people, they don’t care. They will just continue on their phone and not make conversation.

Now not all of our Chinese friends are like this, and even one of our Chinese friend admitted that this addiction thing is really bad in China.

Another example of this is in Starbucks. Sometimes we would go there and treat ourselves, and we would constantly see people on their phones. No talking, no nothing. Just on their phones. When we were in Mexico, we realised how cheap it actually was, so we decided to go in and have a drink. We looked around and EVERYONE was talking! We looked around and not one person was on their phone. They were talking, playing card games…. interacting with one another.

We then realised how different it was in China. I suppose we didn’t really notice too much, we just became accustomed to it. But yeah, I think we kind of made a mental note to ourselves not to use our phones as much.

But yeah, it’s a terrible problem that Chinese people have… and I really don’t think it’ll stop. They use their phones to pay for things, buy things (such as cinema tickets)….. pretty much everything!

We even saw a homeless guy asking for money with a scanner code! You simply scan the code he has, then you pay him through your phone!!! That is actually a thing now!

So yes, I won’t miss the obsession with phones here. I’m not sure if it’s the same in Ireland (I hope not) but I’ll definitely try harder not to use mine as much!

Aisling

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Shanghai

So we’ve arrived in Shanghai and this will be our last full day in China! The weather has been great here the past two days, however today is cloudy and apparently there will be a typhoon hitting us. It seems ok at the moment though, and the lack of sun is a relief for me, it was very very hot the past two days!

With regards to Shanghai, it’s a pretty city and all, but I don’t think I could live here. The metro is crowded and unorganised, everything is very expensive, there doesn’t seem to be many parks about, and finally theres a lack of tree coverage from the sun. Myself and my fiancé aren’t too fussed on Shanghai to be honest. It’s nice to say we’ve visited but I’m not blown away by it.

We’ve heard from other people who have visited that they weren’t really taken with the city either. We also have a friend who moved from Sichuan to Shanghai to work and when we met them here they said they don’t really like it and want to move back to Sichuan.

The Bund is very pretty at night but the crowds are terrifying! And this is every single night! I can imagine the crowds during a festival! It’s crazy here during the night, as everyone heads to the Bund to see the views of the high rise buildings at night. Plus it’s much cooler than during the day so that’s when everyone is out!

We are heading to Tokyo tonight (another crazy city), so I don’t think we will sleep at all as we will be flying at 12:30am. That will be fun!

I’ve been very tired the past few days here though; the sun, our huge backpacks that we have to carry is taking it’s toll on me. Hopefully my body will get used to the travelling and I’ll be ok soon. It’s the worst when you’re travelling and all you want to do is sleep!

Aisling

Oh So Very Soon

The time for leaving is rapidly approaching and I’m enjoying my last days in Chengdu. Thankfully we have been preparing to leave for a while, so we’ve pretty much everything sorted. We are doing exams next week, so then we will need to submit the grades to the school, print out some things for our principal to sign and change more money from Chinese yuan to Euro and Japanese Yen, and that’s really pretty much it!

Yesterday we went to our favourite Western restaurant to have our usual burgers. This place is called ‘Red Beard Burgers’ and the burgers are delicious! We usually go there for a special occasion, such as for a birthday.

Unfortunately however we found out that he’s actually closing in a months time; the people in the apartments upstairs have been complaining that their apartments smell like hamburgers all the time, and then of course they got the authorities involved and now he has to close up. It’s such a shame because he always got business and his burgers are really really good. He can’t object or anything because of course he’s a foreigner and we’ve no rights here at all. So there’s nothing he can do.

It’s always us against Chinese people here, and you don’t need to think hard about who will always win.

So when we found out he was closing, we said “Yes, now it’s definitely time to leave China” We were going to miss the restaurant a lot when we left, but now we just feel it’s another hint for us to go. The owner said to us that he’s going to go back to his country and start a new adventure, so I suppose thats the same for us! A new adventure!

We’re going to try and go one last time for a burger, we won’t be getting one ever again! ‘Sniff’

We know we are leaving China for good, but I don’t think it’ll hit us until we get back to Ireland and we won’t have a return ticket. Instead we’ll be going the complete opposite way from China….Mexico!

There are a few things I want to buy when we start our new chapter:

  1. A dog. We both really want a dog, but we just couldn’t get one here. We knew we were always going to leave, so we didn’t want more hassle having a dog with us. Plus it wouldn’t be very fair on it either. We might get one in Mexico, maybe, but again we don’t know how long we’ll be there for. So that’s the problem (still).
  2. Weighing Scales. We plan on buying some weighing scales so we can keep an eye on our weight. we don’t have one here, so it was very difficult to see how fat we were getting!
  3. Coffee maker/ press. I enjoy drinking coffee and I know they have good coffee in Mexico, so I want to buy a good coffee maker or a coffee press thing.
  4. PS4. Both me and my fiancé want to buy this for ourselves. That could be our big treat for ourselves!
  5. Instant Pot. I hate cooking and I think this would help me a lot when I start to learn. It’s a basic skill to have but yet I’ve survived 28 years without it. But now I feel I need to start learning, and I really want to enjoy cooking and be able to cook great food…. so I’m going to try once I leave China.

God knows if I’ll get any of these things…… we might be broke by the time we get to Mexico and not be able to afford anything!

Another thing is that we’ve always been in limbo in China, so we’ve never bought anything for future use. Things we bought were always for the ‘here and now’. That’s the problem of living in limbo.

We’ll try not to live in limbo in Mexico though!

Aisling

Things I Will Miss From China

With my time coming to an end soon, I’ve made a list of everything that I will miss about China.

Of course the first one is food. If you love spicy food, definitely come to Sichuan. They even eat spicy things for breakfast here! There are loads of different dishes to try, and every province has their own speciality food, so if you’re a foodie, you will love China. My only problem with Sichuan food is it’s rather oily. That is its only downfall!

Independent Lifestyle: If there are people, there are buses and restaurants. That is one thing that’s guaranteed. I’m going to miss being able to go anywhere I want in the city, and not needing a car. I like that I can walk at night time (on my own) and not be afraid. I really will miss the independence that I have here. In Ireland everyone needs a car to go anywhere. If I don’t have a certain thing in China, I can simple walk down the road to a shop and buy it. No car needed!

If I’m hungry, simply walk to the nearest hole in the wall restaurant and order something. It’s great! Most of the time if we are hungry, we simply order online and wait for it to arrive outside our University campus. The driver will ring us when he is there, and we just go and collect it.  We have become so lazy!

Transport: Again, people = buses. The transport system in Chengdu is incredible. With buses going EVERYWHERE, and new metro lines popping up every year, it’s a great place to live if you don’t own a car. To be honest you really don’t need a car in Chengdu. We have transport cards that we can use for busses and metros, and transport is so cheap too.

For buses, at every stop in the city there is a display showing the bus numbers and how many stops there are until they arrive. I’m REALLY going to miss the transport here.

My apartment: I have lived in 5 apartments since coming to Chengdu, but I really really like the one that we are living in now. It’s huge, the shower is fantastic (we don’t need to wait for the water to heat up,  hot water lasts for like 30 minutes, and the pressure is great) our sofa is big and comfortable (3 people could sleep on it), we have carpet (which is rare in China) and it’s literally 15 steps away from the University shop.

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Yes I know it’s messy…

But of course there are some problems with it: theres not really a kitchen, there is a basketball court right outside and it literally drives me mad when they come out to play. BANG BANG BANG is all we hear. Also as you can see theres absolutely nowhere to put our things. No shelves whatsoever. So it would be a bit tidier if we had places to put things. We have two small balconies but we don’t use them as then everyone would look at us lounging.

To get this apartment we had to move way out of the city. But because it’s in the University, we don’t have to pay rent which is good!

Easy money: For this Uni job I’ve literally taught whatever I want, and I get paid quite good money. For teaching English, you will usually get well paid, because they really really need teachers. However now, many private companies are increasing the work hour. When I started a full time job was 20 hours in the private company where I used to work. Now it’s about 35 hours. But you can save a bit of money here, unless you go travelling and spend it all (which we have done…)

It’s also extremely cheap here! Although I do notice that it’s slowly getting more expensive, but generally it’s very cheap for food. For other things such as deodrant and foreign brands, they can be very expensive though. But travelling and eating here is cheap!

I also love that it’s so safe. I’ve never once had a bad experience either when I was cycling or walking on my own here. It’s very safe. Many parents let their older children get the bus to/ from school. For younger children it’s a little more dangerous, as there are MANY cases of child abduction, especially babies. It’s sad but true.

In my hometown I wouldn’t walk around at night time, too many drunk people/ bad people about unfortunately.  So I’ll miss how safe it is here.

But yes, I really will miss living here though. I’ve realised why I’ve been here so long. There are definitely problems with the country for sure, and sometimes all I want to do is complain about China and the people and what not, but it has been good to me too.

With regards to my future however, I just couldn’t see myself living permanently. The government is too restrictive, the education system is too harsh and stressful, and sometimes the attitudes of it’s people are just too different to my own. I don’t believe in their values, such as money is the most important thing in life, blah blah blah. ha plus I’m always going to be fat here.

But yeah, it’s time to move on, and leave all these great things I mentioned above behind. Sniff Sniff…..

Aisling.

Things I Won’t Miss From China

After 5 years of living in China, and with departure only a few weeks away, here is a list of things that I won’t miss from China.

If you happen to be from China and don’t want to get offended then I suggest you don’t read this blog. I have lived here for long enough and I’ve experienced all of the things listed before, so I’m not making these up. These are all my own opinions so this doesn’t represent every expat here in China.

Of course my own country has it’s fair share of problems, I know this… it’s known as having a  ‘compensation culture’, sky high rents and having a homeless epidemic, among many other things! So I can even write my own post about the problems in Ireland!

Maybe this blog will might help foreigners coming to China for the first time and what to expect!

Drivers; I honestly feel most people here have paid their way to be able to drive on Chinese roads, and they actually haven’t done the apparently very difficult driving test.

People don’t indicate… or they indicate right but then they turn left. They don’t use their mirrors, some don’t put their lights on at night.  Some stop at road corners which is incredibly dangerous.  I don’t know… it just feels like they have no regard for anything/ anyone except themselves. Once they find a spot to park their car, regardless of if it will affect other people… it doesn’t matter. They’ll park there.

They parked in the middle of the road to take a phone call and there are 5 cars behind them beeping like crazy for them to move. . . and they will continue to just stay there. They are oblivious (or don’t care) for other people. And I have witnessed this plenty of times.

Lack of common sense: Time and time again I have seen people casually walking across the road and NEVER look left or right! I remember once I was waiting to cross a busy road. There was a lady about my age waiting in front of me. So the green man comes on and out she walks into the road. But I saw there was an e-bike racing towards here. Thankfully he managed to stop in time but he was only 1 foot away from her. Not once did she even glance left to make sure nothing was coming. Because I was maybe 3 feet away from here, I saw the e-bike coming, and I was thinking “Is she not going to look left before she crosses?…..Oh, no she didn’t”

So when the e-bike had stopped, she got a bit of a fright… but carried on. She didn’t once look at the man on the e-bike and apologise, but just continued on walking like nothing happened.

To me, this is pure common sense to be aware of your surroundings. Chengdu has loads of e-bikes, and they won’t stop when the light is red. . . people here are aware of this, but still they don’t look before they step onto the road.

When I used to live in the city and I would cycle to work, and plenty of times people (without warning) would just step onto the road in front of me, and I would have to slam on my brakes to stop a collision. It’s so frustrating.  And of course they don’t look first.

Another time I was cycling around a corner. What a surprise, there was a car parked on the corner of the road, and a man and woman standing right in the middle of the road… TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE. Jesus, why stop in the middle of the road and start talking to people who are on the footpath???

Obviously I didn’t want to cycle on the opposite side, so I had to cycle between the man and the car, and as I did I was ringing my bell on my bike furiously and I shouted “Jesus Christ, will you move out of the way!!” He looked at me with such a dirty look  and was probably thinking “huh, this foreigner telling me what to do.. IN MY OWN COUNTRY”. . . Yeah I will tell you what to do… if you are that stupid to stand in the middle of the road, then someone needs to tell you.

Lack of Queues: When I go to Walmart to go and buy things.. I hate queueing up…. just because no one here apparently knows how to do it. Because someone skipped us in the queue once before, read here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl I’m always constantly aware of the people coming behind me… Oh are they going to skip me?? Oh they moved, where are they now? (quick glance around my shoulder) Make a barrier so they can’t skip ahead.... You really shouldn’t have to be thinking about that kind of thing, but unfortunately here you have to.

Another time my fiancee was waiting to get veg weighed, and of course an old granny comes up and puts hers on first. He didn’t do or say anything because whats the point, he will most likely be ignored by the old lady plus the worker there, so he let her go ahead. The old lady wasn’t even fazed about it. Maybe she was thinking I’m an old women I deserve to go first. 

For buses, people (especially old people) make a mad rush to get on, it’s like if they don’t get on, then the bus will go without them. Planes are the same. Once the plane touches down, there is a mad dash for their bags. We always joke that they are afraid they’ll get stuck on the plane forever if they aren’t the first 10 people to get their bags. Haha that’s what it looks like though.

Materialistic: Because China has become rich quite fast, this means that a lot of people think about material things. Every Chinese person NEEDS to get the latest iPhone, or they will seem poor.

Every week= new shoes, new clothes…. it’s a never ending battle to look rich and pretty here! I definitely can’t handle it! I can’t wait to go back home and not have to worry about looking like I have money.

Wasteful: Because of this new wealth, unfortunately many Chinese people waste a lot of food. Once I saw a family of 3 (mother, father and a 5/6 year old daughter) come in to a restaurant. Usually when you order food, for 2.5 people you would order maybe 3 dishes and rice. But this family ordered about 6/7 dishes of food! Just for the 3 of them! Usually this is to show ‘we have money, we can order as many dishes as we want’. We left after our meal but I seriously hope they got the rest of that food to take out!

But anyway, here they do waste a huge amount of food. I hope in the future the government will educate China about wasting food, because it’s such a a shame. There are many many poor people… give the leftover food to them instead of throwing it all in a big bucket.

Pollution: I don’t need to elaborate on this.

Being ‘fat’: I’m absolutely fed up of feeling constantly fat in China. At the moment I’m 9.5 stone, but be god thats FAT here. I constantly feel like every Chinese girl is looking at me and thinking “Oh wow look at her skin, it’s so white…. but she’s fat.” I know 100% that that is what they are thinking.

I can’t wear shorts because I just feel so self-conscious. I don’t like like wearing t-shirts because they ‘showcase my fat arms’. To be 45kg (7 stone) is the perfect weight for Chinese girls here. WTF!!??? To me that is just unhealthy, and definitely not attractive looking. So I really do worry about my weight and just feel so self-conscious here. They think that I don’t exercise and I eat crap, and that’s why I’m like this. It’s true. In class sometimes we would talk about health and what not, and the students would say “Don’t eat unhealthy food so you won’t get fat”. Simple as. So they must think I gorge on food and don’t exercise whatsoever.

So yes, I really really won’t miss that aspect.

My god that’s a long list!

I know It sounds like a big rant, but I honestly have enjoyed living in China. And don’t think it was all about getting good money; I’ve been here two years working part time, so I really didn’t earn a lot. If I wasn’t fed up of teaching and had a job related to what I want to do, I think I would have stayed here for longer. So although I have mentioned some things that I won’t miss about here… there are a lot of positives about living in China.

So that will be another post to make, things that I WILL miss from China.

Aisling

One More Month Until We Leave!

“We’ve loads of time, we still have 8 weeks left!”

Well that doesn’t ring true at all now! With just a little over a month left to leave Chengdu, we have realised we really need to get our things sorted before we go.

The weeks have just gone by so fast! Soon we’ll be saying goodbye to the country we have called home for 5 years, but hopefully we’ll call Mexico and Ireland home soon!

We have quite a lot of things to do before that though. We have a big trip coming up when we leave Chengdu. First we fly to Shanghai and we will spend a few days there. Next we head to Japan and will be there 2 weeks (we really can’t wait, my fiancé has been dying to visit it for a while now), then we head to Hong Kong for a week, where we fly direct to Dublin. We chose Hong Kong because it’s direct.

We will relax in Ireland for about 2 months, in during which time my fiancés family will visit, and will (finally) get to meet my own family. (That in itself is making me anxious!) Then from Ireland we will go to Madrid, and then FINALLY we’ll fly to Mexico. We’ll visit Cancun and a few other places of interest, and then from there we will fly to Cuernavaca where my fiancés Mum and Dad live. Then we’ll start our new chapter in our lives!

Phew!! I’m anxious just thinking about it all! But hopefully everything will go fine with our travels. We have been very lucky so far.

But today was a good day as we got our rail pass tickets for Japan. This is so when we go to Japan we can use our passes on a lot of trains. With this tickets we already pre-paid so we don’t need to pay for every single train that we use there. We thought we had to pay online and then wait for the documents to arrive. Then we have to go to the airport in Japan and get that exchanged for the real train pass ticket. But we went to an office in Chengdu and they simply printed the documents out for us. It was so convenient! So we were very happy with that. We just go and exchange them for the passes. Nothing is every straightforward in China. Especially with the language barrier.

So that’s one thing ticked off anyway. I still have to organise selling my bike, which I REALLY don’t want to do. I really love it, and I’d love to send it back home, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. Plus here people don’t buy bikes anymore because there are tonnes of public bikes that people pay a small fee and are able to use it. So I think it’ll be a problem to sell it.

I’m really going to miss my apartment though. I will take some photos of it soon and post it here. It’s really quite amazing! And the size is unlike most you’ll find in China! It’s always in a constant mess though. It’s huge, but we’ve absolutely nowhere to put things, no shelves whatsoever. The only thing that is organised are our clothes that are in the wardrobe. Everything else is everywhere!

Our plan is to try and get something done each day! So….what’s next on our list to do??

Aisling

Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Excursions

Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Excursions

So with having booked the 3 days and 2 night tour on the cruise (junk) boat, we were brought to more places than the others who just opted for the 1 night tour. I recommend the 2 night one.

First we were brought to some big caves, where the manager of our junk boat took us into the caves and told us about them. There are 3 caves altogether and the last one is huge!

 

The next day we went with another couple on our day excursion. The man who would be taking us for the day said that for previous day there were 16 people on the day excursion, so we were very lucky that we were accompanied by only another couple! They brought us to a smaller boat for the day, so it was great having the boat to ourselves and the other couple!

He took us to see some monkeys that live up on the mountains. While there we passed a few boats filled to the brim with Chinese tourists, thankful to be on our boat with just 5 people!

 

Then we went to visit the Fishing Villages, and it was really interesting! Unfortunately there is only one village left in Halong Bay, as in 2012 or 2014 (I’m not 100% sure) the government moved the people living there onto the mainland so they could have a better standard of living and their children could go to school. However some older generations weren’t happy as they had lived on the boats their whole lives. So now, the people living on the boats don’t live their permanently as they used to in the past.

 

I remember watching an episode of Top Gear (a show about cars) and they went to Vietnam and to one of these fishing villages, and I remember it was that episode that made me interested in visiting Vietnam.

After that we went to a Pearl Farm, where they farm pearls. I never realised it, but it’s actually a very long process, taking years for a pearl to grow. Then many of the shells won’t have a pearl at all. So a lot of it is all about luck. Also many pearls have small imperfections, so that is why they can be so expensive, as the ones that are 100% perfect are very rare!

 

The day after we were supposed to go to a small beach, but because there was a little drizzle outside, we decided to stay on the boat. We really didn’t mind having to spend longer on it at all! They also included Tai Chi in the mornings, so we went up one morning to the deck and (tried) to do some tai chi. It was a great experience.

Halong Bay wise, it was very enjoyable sailing through the karst islands. There are nearly 2,000 of them! There was a bit of rubbish in the sea when we went to visit the fishing village, so that was a shame. It’s a pity the government won’t enforce the dumping of rubbish, as it’s such a beautiful place. We went in the low season so there may be more rubbish in the sea during high season, but I’m not sure. We loved our experience and we would definitely recommend Indochina Sails if you want to go to Halong Bay. It’s only accessible by cruises, there’s no other way to visit these islands.

 

At night all the cruise boats park near each other in the middle of the islands so it’s lovely seeing the twinkling of all the lights from the boats at night time.

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All the boats at night

To find out about our cruise boat, click here: Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

Aisling