Recently I went to China. It is a place I have always wanted to visit. My time in the country was too short and I intend to go back to explore more. But I thought you may want to read some about my days there through some of the signs I encountered along the way.
First we went looking for a hotel. We wanted something cheap and clean. This one caught our eye. But on second thought we decided against the Hump Hostel. We weren’t sure what would be expected from us there.
Luckily for us, we found a perfectly fine little place to sleep and rest. To our surprise they even had water that we could drink from the tap. We wouldn’t have known that it was possible had we not seen the sign telling us that the water was directly drinkable and we drank it without any concern.
We were however concerned when we entered the bathroom and saw a gold-colored warning sign screaming at us: Be Aware of Landslide! We looked around the hotel wondering where the landslide may come from, but since we were in a perfectly flat area, we figured that Chinese people have very powerful diarrhea.
After reading the sign about the landslide and drinking the directly drinkable water it was time for my shower. I was confused about how to turn the water on since hot water faucets can be very confusing. Thankfully there was a sign explaining to me exactly how to do it. The illustration along with the writing saying that there was hot and cold water made it easier for me to understand what I was dealing with. I also understood that my shower had to be done quick since the sign clearly stated that. While wondering what a Gentlemene was, I thought it was odd that there needed to be a sign that told the showeree that the floor was wet. I don’t know Chinese culture well, so I concluded that there may be ways of taking baths in China that don’t involve water. Why else point out that it was wet in the shower stall? And as I was intrigued with the word cautionscald. It sounded really scary so I hurried out of the bathroom as soon as I was done.
Going down to the lobby of my hotel I was concerned about breaking any unwritten cultural taboos. When I noticed a sign on the wall next to the exit I was not sure where to go. There were a group channel and a barrier free channel, it said. I didn’t know if I belonged to a group of if I was barrier free. Since it is a Communist country I thought that belonging to a group might be the expectation. But I also knew that China is trying to improve it’s image, so maybe they wanted us to know they were barrier free, and I should be too. I solved the problem by walking down the stairs that did not have any signs attached to them.
Outside things were just fine. We mingled with the people and made sure motorbikes, cars, trucks, bicycles, or other vehicles did not hit us. Since there had not been any coffee at the hotel we decided to go to the local Starbucks. The coffee lived up to the Starbucks reputation, and so did the bathroom. When I saw the sign on the wall, I was tempted to do what it told me not to do: Squat on the toilet seat. I resisted the temptation and continued my day.
It had been some busy months and life was taking its toll on my body. Getting a spa treatment sounded very tempting. There, right in front of me I found what looked like a perfect solution to my stress. The landscape into a hotspring. Wow, I would love to see that! And it got better. It promised water life and beautiful aids (I hoped they would look like Johnny Depp). That it would keep a goog mood sounded appealing too.
I spent a long time deciding if I wanted my back rubbed with a towel or my feet massaged with herbs. Both sounded equally tempting.
After the sauna/spa experience it was time for lunch. I was looking forward to some really good Chinese food. We went to a local noodle shop, and luckily for us the choices were many. I had a really hard time deciding between the noodles with 4 one-sided made of wheat, heart, face, white and soft body, taste somersault to wheat can eat sweet or the 6 months with the fattening of the 2-year-old healthy, mature cattle in the upper Luxi cattle and cattle abdominal muscles. In the end I settled for a vegetarian dish since I did not think I could eat noodles with a face white and a soft body. I also wasn’t sure if I would like to eat abdominal muscles.
At the end of the day we moved on to a new hotel, hoping we would learn more about this vast country by doing some hotel hopping. To our relief, we found that also in this hotel room they provided drinking water. And this water seemed like it would be even better than last night’s. I wondered when I had last drank water from a drinking fountain that was sumptuous. Maybe it had life-giving qualities.
The shower in this hotel was as confusing as the last one. It appeared to have hot and cold water, and it was up to me to figure out how to turn it on. Luckily for me, there was a sign describing in detail how to do it. But as I read it I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to shower that night. How exactly does one turn the cold hot object and then spray to pour to press to twist? At least the notic (whatever that is) made it easy for me to understand how to close the shower curtain and how to put the mat on the floor. I also thought it was very hospitable of the staff to let us know they want us to enjoy our stay in the shower.
We wanted to have a cocktail before dinner, and what better place to go than to the lobby. Going to the bar, however, we weren’t sure if we were in the right place and if we could get anything other than ice coffee. And the ice coffee could be very expensive. The bar, it said, was an Expense area. We wondered about that that meant. Did the hotel management want us to know that this particular area of the hotel was very costly? Or was this an area of people with expenses? Or did it mean we would acquire expenses if we crossed the line into the bar? We weren’t sure. Of one thing we were sure though: They served drinks in there. But that was all we knew. Except from ice coffee, we would have to be content knowing that only kinds of drinks were being served. Maybe the selection of drinks depended on what day it was.
Before checking out of the hotel the next morning we looked through our bags one more time, making sure we had not taken anything from the room by mistake. We went through the list and checked every thing off: Floor tower? No. Protects the pad? No. Bed flags? No. Pillow Core? No. Face tower? No. Gargling cup? No. Ash-bin or laundry basket? No. Television or mosquito killer? No. Drinking bowl or toaster (Toaster? Did we see a toaster? Face tower, yes, but was there a toaster in here?) Haning cover and Baisha curtain? No way. We would never run away with the haning cover. Slip proof cushion? No. And glass vase? Absolutely not.
We were pleased that the only thing we had taken from the hotel was the soap, the shampoo and the free combs. We could, with a clean conscience say that we had neither damdaged or polluted any of the articles by carelessness and we would not be expected to compensate a ccording to cost.
Our time was coming to an end and we had to leave this big country. I am sure I will be back one day. And now I am a little more prepared. I will bring my own gargling cup and I will for sure never squat on the toilet ring.