China, mysterious lands of mandarins, epic history and impenetrable culture. My arse. China, land of people everywhere staring at their cell phones, mopeds on the pavement and smog. Well maybe not quite true either, but China is still pretty much defined by being bloody hard work. As I write this, we are coming to the end of a year in Beijing and it’s been a year of frustrations hard work and some nice surprises.

I know China is massive and that, but guess what, it really is. This was our first time living somewhere so big and to be honest the scale of it has pretty much kicked me into touch.

The kids of course have adapted to it much better than the fogies, they can travel about the city on their own quite safely apart from maybe getting run over by a moped and the stuff we find annoying as adults (public spitting, belching, shouting matches crowds everywhere), they find funny.

Anyway, here are some things I didn’t know about China that I do now….

  1. They are mad about pooches in Beijing and dress them up in ridiculous doggy booties, carry them about in prams and what not.
  2. They wear bonkers clothes combinations; think a pair of Doctor Martens a pink fairy skirt and T-Short that says ‘hadfklhadkj’ (English innit).
  3. They love making all service encounters as complicated as possible. Now I know I don’t speak much Chinese (barely any in fact), but there is a rule a friend told me that applies even if you do, ‘if it can go wrong, it will’. The worst offenders are banks and trains.
  4. It’s like recent history never happened. Chinese people will spend hours on the subway watching epic history shows about one dynasty or another, but nobody I have met has even mentioned anything post a very long time ago. The exception to this rule is the Japanese invasion. They love shows about that too. It’s good to have a baddy eh.
  5. Chinese food takes about six months to get used to. The sheer level of garlic is quite a thing, but strangely after the 6-month mark it all starts tasting pretty good. And none of it is anything like the Chinese food we get outside of China. In the least.
  6. Talking about food, the Chinese love meat on sticks.
  7. Chinese pop music is pants.
  8. The smog in Beijing at least is exaggerated.
  9. The Forbidden City is boring.

If we weren’t always working I’m sure we could find something else a bit more profound about China, but that sadly is not the case. Unless you have generous holidays it’s just too big. Still the kids Chinese has come along quite well, so maybe one days we’ll revisit and actually try and see a bit more.