Why I like the USA
After 4 or 5 days of re-acclimating to being in the States, there are several things that I really missed in China. They might seem minor, but you will really miss them when they are gone.
1. CABLE TV -- Having 150 channels of television, with nearly all of the channels in English. And although a lot of the channels are showing garbage, at least it is watchable garbage. In the Chinese hotels, we generally had 4 English channels and 30 Chinese channels. 5 of the Chinese channels always seemed to be running 'costume dramas'. Modern movies or 'soap operas' with costumes from the Mind dynasty. And although you would assume there would be lots of fighting with swords and kung-fu, there wasn't any. Just lots of talking...in Chinese. An additional 5 Chinese channels are running Chinese music videos. Very young, attractive Asian men and women singing sappy love songs. The audio was always mixed very clean and boring, kind of like contemporary Christian music, but of course, in Chinese. 3 or 4 channels would have a awards/festival/variety show with large groups singing. A couple channels would have Chinese news, and one channel would have a guy crying. There would always be a scene in a TV drama where a girl leaves a guy, and the guy starts to 'tear up' and cry. Normal US TV shows stop where the guy's eyes look a little watery, then they cut to commercial. Asian TV shows just keep the cameras rolling for some of the most uncomfortable TV ever made. The guy start crying, and the camera just sits on a medium shot, with no panning or zooming or anything. Just a guy crying. Then, when you expect them to cut to a commercial, he starts sobbing. Full on, shoulders shuddering, rubbing your eyes with your sleeve sobbing. Then it escalates to wailing. Still no movement from the camera, and at this point I'm saying to the screen, "Cut to commercial, for gawd's sake cut to a commercial". Lots of crying on Asian TV. The English channels all pretend to be channels I am familiar with. CNN, ESPN, HBO. However, they are all Asian versions of these channels. CNN Asia has British news anchors and they tend to cover Asian issues. Which it fine, I suppose, but it doesn't feel like the same CNN. ESPN Asia seems to always have a soccer game on, but several mornings during breakfast, we could watch the World Series. HBO Asia was the worst. They played 15 year old B-movies with all of the nudity edited out. Lots of gory, and bloody violence, but no nudity. It also seemed like every fifth movie was Caddyshack.
2. POTABLE WATER -- Here in the US, we take for granted that you can drink the water out of the sink. But it really messes up with your head to be in a five star hotel in the center of a modern metropolis of 15 million people, but you can't drink the water. I was standing in the shower made out of marble and glass using the most expensive showerhead I've ever had the pleasure to use, knowing that if I looked up and opened my mouth I had a good chance of getting Giardia. In the breakfast buffet, we were eating off of the good China, and being waited on by 3 or 4 Chinese waitresses. The buffet was free with the room, and we were served all the coffee we could drink, but when we asked for a glass of water, we were given a little plastic bottle of water and charges 4 bucks. It's weird when Coke, coffee, and beer cost less than water.
3. ACTUAL NEWS -- We were given the CHINA DAILY newspaper in every hotel room. It is the National English language newspaper produced by the government's news agency. However, it always has 'positive' news. The front story every day was the the two Chinese astronauts that were orbiting the earth while we were there. Pictures of them getting into the capsule, riding inside the capsule, getting out of the capsule. Pictures of them with their families, doing hobbies, looking serious dressed in a uniform. They were finally kicked off the front page with the pictures of the Taiwan unification festival. They were celebrating 60 years of Taiwan being returned to China from the Japanese. Um... Hello! They were having a festival celebrating a province that has been treated as an independent country for almost 40 years. I really had to read between the lines on all of the stories to come up with the actual truth. In a weird way, the China Daily makes me really appreciate the Wenatchee World.