Day 27 – 10 interesting observations about Guangdong

It rains quite a lot here in the Southern Canton regoin. And I don’t mean just tiny drops, it’s straight heavy downpour for hours.

So far I’ve been caught in the rain while tomb-sweeping, while buying groceries, while picking watermelons, and while riding on motorcycles. Rain ponchos don’t even do much here since the rain is so heavy and the wind is so strong. Apparently though this isn’t normal, and it’s just our luck that it’s been raining half the time we’ve been here.

While I’m free today, and I finally have no more relatives or village neighbors to visit, I’d like to share my list of interesting things that I’ve noticed about the people here in Guangdong from Jiangmen City. FYI, for those who don’t know, Guangdong is a province (similar to what we call states in the U.S) and it is home to many of the Cantonese people in China and overseas, and Jiangmen is one of the cities located in it. Guangdong is also one of the few provinces in China where Cantonese is more wisely spoken than the national language, Mandarin. So if you can imagine, Guangdong is quite a distinguished area compared to the rest of China. Kind of like Scicily is to Italy.

So here we go, 10 interesting things I noticed about Guangdong:

1. People here have extremely high standards for food. I haven’t sat through a single dinner where we didn’t pick apart all of the dishes and figured out exactly how things were cooked. Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether something tastes better steamed or boiled or poached. I just eat.

2. People rinse all their tableware with tea before eating at restaurants. Even though most of the utencils come prewrapped with the word “Disinfected” on it, people still go at it with tea before eating. I know this is a uniquely Guangdong thing because when I did it at the Shanghai dinner table, people looked at me real funny.

3. A cheap tank top here costs about $3usd, similar to if you went to Forever21 in the U.S. Yet it only costs about $.33 cents to ride the bus here compared to $2.75 in NYC. Why?

4. People smoke everywhere. I even saw ashtrays on airplanes, yet there’s a sign that says you cannot smoke. Did they just recently change it so people can’t smoke on planes?

5. People are really scared of the sun. They’ll carry umbrellas with them everywhere to avoid the sun. At first I thought it was really silly, but the sun here indeed is quite strong, and the risk of being burnt is much higer than in the U.S. Well, unless you live in Arizona.

6. There are $2 dollar stores here instead of .99 cents stores! In usd terms, that would be a .33 cents store.

7. You cannot buy contact solution in drugstores. You buy it at the glasses store. Makes sense.

8. People take siestas here! My cousins get two hours for lunch and nap, AND they still get off work at 5 or 6. Whaat? We need to start a petition for this in America.

9. Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can somehow mutually understand each other here. This is NOT true anywhere else in the country. My mom was looked at real cray cray when she spoke Cantonese to people in Beijing.

10. People really like fresh meat. You’ve heard of people liking fresh fruits and vegetables, but people in Guangdong really like restaurants and markets where you can pick your own live fish, duck and chicken. Yup. You simply pick a chicken, they give you a tag, and you come back in 10 minutes to a freshly slaughtered chicken, defeathered, washed, and wrapped for you.

11. BONUS! There’s a LOT of propaganda on television. You turn any TV on in China and you’ll see ads promoting China, songs about China, and even on talent shows you’ll see foreigners (who I suspect are hired) singing about how much they love China. All of this is just a little creepy to me.

So that’s it, my 11 observations. Hope you found that interesting! The anthropologist in me just couldn’t help but share these “field notes,” haha.

Rain, lots of rain!

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