Culture Not “Cultured”

Two thousand years of continuous Chinese culture has produced many notable things such as paper money, mechanical clocks, the wheelbarrow. There is evidence that the Chinese were experimenting with flying mechanisms thousands of years before the Wright Brothers and that Gutenburg’s printing press was actually based on Chinese designs. These and countless other sophisticated concepts and products have emerged from the minds of the Chinese, which makes it all the more disturbing when you step outside to witness their descendants spitting, peeing and yes even vomiting casually on the sidewalks. The world is surrounded by Chinese regurgitation, so to speak, and I am literally standing ankle deep in it on the street.

In contrast to the basic lack of public decorum (which does not apply to the booming class of little emperor teenagers dressed in expensive designer knockoffs), southern China is blessed with beauty. The Li River is famous for its bubbly, haphazardly placed mountains. If it looks familiar, blame the walls of your local China Buffet. (Two thousand years of continuous culture has produced a lot of Chinese people and those people in turn have produced a lot of scroll paintings.)

After basing ourselves in the charming village of Yangshuo, we explored the river by boat. After only a handful of days in China we could already appreciate the rarity of emptyness.  It was a timeless view  in a country that is tearing itself down and rebuilding overnight. But the public bus back to Yangshuo yanked us back into the modern reality of China, as a swarthy local hocked a big loogie on the carpeted floor.

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