22.04.2014 - 14.05.2014
After spending 3 weeks in China I can say with confidence that culture shock well and truly is alive and kicking!! I was 100% affected by it. To the extent that I was questioning my whole trip away. I will explain....
It kicked in on my first day in China when, as I mentioned in previous post, a Chinese man spat by my foot on the tube! Ewwww yuk!! I really struggled to cope with the Chinese in crowds, I hated the fact that they hocked up and spat everywhere, I hated that they pushed and tugged you to get past, I hated that they spat their food out onto the table! And I won't even mention the squat toilets! But most of all, and this was the biggest thing for me, I hated that when I smiled at them, they never ever smiled back. How unpolite I thought! Then I decided to make a game out of it and smile at everyone to see if I could get anyone to smile back. Nope! Grumpy so and so's! Well, I thought, at least I am flying the flag for Britain! That we are smiley, happy and polite people! 1 - nil to us! In your face China!!
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the Chinese, I just hated them in crowds. I need to make this very clear because over my time there, every Chinese person I had the pleasure to meet was lovely, kind, fun, helpful and a joy to get to know. There are some characters that I will never forget.
This put me in a very weird place as I loved them and hated the situation at the same time. They got me so worked up at times but on the other hand gave me life long fond memories.
After sharing my thoughts on the crowds with a local American Girl, it turns out that Chinese people are lovely and kind to their friends and family but don't give a s**t about anyone else. That explains a lot! Come on China, let's share the love!
Luckily the culture shock died down a bit the further south we travelled, but it was still there, under my skin, bubbling away, affecting my mood and motivation. I just couldn't seem to shake it.
I did love my final destination, Yangshou, but I think it was a little bit ruined by the after affects of the previous weeks. I think that if I had started my China adventure there, things may have been different. Maybe it would have eased me into China rather than being thrown in at the deep end in Beijing.
Even though my travel in China was affected by this culture shock, I'm still glad I went there as I saw and had some truly wonderful experiences. The Shanghai skyline, the Chinese board games in the bar, the dinosaur mountains, to name a few.
Now I am in Vietnam, the culture shock has gone and I'm back on top travelling form. Phew! This might have something to do with the fact that we are staying with the most lovely friends of the family who are spoiling us with wonderful company, great Coll stories from the 90's, G&T's and lots of fabulous local food and beer! Thanks Steve and Hoa! We owe you big time! The drinks are on us next time you are on Coll!
So there you go, I was sceptic, but Culture Shock is a real thing. Be aware!!.