Top 5 Records

Only time for a quick post tonight, and in the spirit of “High Fidelity,” I thought I’d list my five favourite aspects of China, with the caveat that these change on an almost daily basis.

1. Xiuxi – without a doubt, the Chinese 2.5-3 (seasonal) version of the Mexican siesta is the sweetest and wisest use of time, EVER. Too bad my American-ness caused me to treat xiuxi as extra working hours until my last few months …

2. Salons – peopled by cool hair artists strikingly similar to those you might expect to see in San Francisco, in these lovely places could be found either conversation or solitude for a blessed few hours, with a shampoo, head massage, and ear cleaning (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) for only 10 kuai (about 1.25 USD at the time). Just be VERY clear about what you want if you’re bent on a cut!

3. Dichotomies – often irritating, very occasionally endearing, and exceptionally challenging, these puzzles provided endless thought material and conversational fodder for PCVs bent on discussing the meaning of life. I’m not being persnickity or sarcastic here either – you know nothing about yourself until you’ve watched a people balance on the blade between two diametrically opposed sides of a very sharp knife.

4. Detail – maybe this comes from being a culture where manual labour is still undervalued, but even the most mundane of features (sidewalk tiles, night lighting on office buildings, English Corners) was carefully handcrafted and accessibly beautiful. Notice, of course, that university classrooms were necessarily omitted in my list.

5. Nuanced layers of love that have nothing to do with obligation, and the ability to walk alone downtown at night with headphones on and no worries.

(I still, however, loathe “Happy Everyday!”)



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