I just arrived back in Hong Kong a few hours ago, and I just have to say, holy shit am I glad to be out of China.
On this trip, we went to Guangzhou, Changping, and Humen. And our experiences echoed that of our last trip to Xiamen and Shantou I think it was. China peeps are batshit crazy. I’m surprised that with the modernisation of the great red nation and huge growth in car ownership, that the population of China is what it is.
Every time I set foot on the road, I thought I was going to die. Everything I sat my ass in a car, I thought our driver was going to kill someone. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, China is the fricken’ wild west when it comes to navigating the roads.
One particular incident this trip of which I’ll never forget, Erica and I were crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing, with a green man lit, when this bus came barreling along right into the pedestrian crossing. Basically it hardly slowed down and just flashed it’s lights, scattering us, and all other pedestrians like ten pins. Anyone in the front of that bus would have been killed, plain and simple.
A cacophony of horns blare non-stop throughout the day in a concert of noise I’ve never heard anywhere else I’ve been. Whereas in Australia, you will almost never hear a horn.
And the sad thing is, this is normal. People stroll nonchalantly across five lane roads with cars blasting around the like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Cars have no respect for pedestrians, or traffic signage, and seem like they’ll literally drive over you if you don’t get out of their way. They even drive the wrong way against traffic on the roads seemingly on a whim! I’ve seen many even do the pedestrian nudge, which in any civilised country, would result in the driver getting his head smashed in.
But on the flip side of that coin, you can’t blame the drivers either, because the pedestrians themselves don’t give a shit about cars. In fact, no one seems to give a shit about any other person apart from themselves. Erica was at the front of the queue at McDonalds and in the midst of ordering, this lady just pushes her way in and starts order as the lady was still taking Erica’s order, ignoring her and the rest of the queue. I was at the front of the lift queue waiting, and right as the doors open, these 2 guys just barge in in front of me, and proceed to repeatedly try to close the lift door on me… repeatedly!
One interesting comparison I like to make is when you take an intersection with no lights. In Australia, all the cars are hesitant to move because each would rather let another have the right of way. In Asia, the opposite seems to hold true more often than not, with all cars moving forward in demand of the right of way.
Cars and buses rain litter from the windows like confetti, and every second person just spits all over the street. Even if that means right at your feet, in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. Mothers let their children take a piss openly on the roadside in front of crowds, and it wouldn’t surprised me if I one day saw someone taking a shit in a public fountain.
The scary thing is, some of these things remind me of Singapore 30 years ago in the 80s, before I moved to Australia. Chinese are inherently selfish, and that is the problem with the country. Sadly, they have to be selfish, or they won’t be able to survive.
If you were only honest man in a room full of crooks, it won’t be long before you’re well and truly screw under. Now that’s just an analogy, but it seems to be the key to survival in this city. Whether it be from something as small as boarding a bus, to something larger like tendering for a business contract, the honest will lose out.
It’s funny when you read about how much pride that the Chinese netizens seem to have of their country, because they seem to have a strange way of showing it in their day to day lives. What does it mean to have pride in your country? To me, it means that you treat the country as you would your own house, and everything under it.
That every man is your family, and that all the land is your property. To treat everything outside your front door as if it were on the inside of it. To me, that is national pride. By acts of selfish behaviour such as cutting queues, cheating your fellow man, or spitting and littering, it demonstrates a lack of pride in your country. However, if this is what a person does under his own roof, then I have no case to make.
Being born in Singapore, it’s simply amazing to witness how far and how fast the nation, and it’s people, have progressed in such a short amount of time. One of the greatest gifts that former PM Lee Kuan Yew gave to the nation, I believe, is a strong sense of pride in itself. If you can truly lead your people, inspire them and create a vision for them that they believe in, it’s incredible just what they can achieve. What they are willing to put aside and pull together to accomplish.
Singapore has come a long way, and like *every* nation, still has further to go (especially on the roads). Singaporeans have long been tagged with the kiasu (afraid to lose) stigma, and from what I’ve seen, is a stigma that is not unfounded. But on the flipside, it’s heartening to see that the nations leaders have made it one of their goals break this down and unite their people as one.
Singapore is small, whereas China is… a size beyond words. However I hope that one day… sometime in the future, they’ll be able to look back upon themselves and take pride in how far they’ve come. Not as a technological vanguard, not as a financial superpower, and not as a military might. But as a family under one roof. A roof that belongs to each and every man, and whom will treat it with all the respect and pride that it deserves.