Travel: Beijing, Part III – People

First, let me quote Economist from what I read today:

BEIJING’s Olympic celebrations get underway on Wednesday August 8th, exactly a year before the huge sporting event kicks off. There will be a huge gala in Tiananmen Square; other events around China’s capital will include a 1m-strong morning-exercise class. The event will serve as a useful reminder to organisers of how long they have to persuade the people of Beijing to rid themselves of bad habits and clean up their language. As part of improving the city’s image they have set themselves the tricky task of putting an end to spitting and littering and of forcing capital-dwellers to learn to queue.

Somehow, I feel like I am agreeing with Economist a lot on their writing, based on my observation during the Beijing trip.

During the 1 week, although I didn’t really see anyone spitting in front of me, but judging from the many spit stains which you could easily spot on the road or pathway, I don’t really want to imagine or know much. Littering is not much a problem, relatively compared to Kuala Lumpur, but I did have the experience whereby the lady sitting next to me at Great Wall China threw her nutshell away on the florr after feeding her kid just like that, in front of me.

Learning to queue, oh yes, that is a phenomenon too. But again, it is a relative experience, depending on where you want to compare to: Kuala Lumpur or Kyoto. But my husband was quite annoyed with his queue to buy subway ticket once: it was his turn at the counter to buy the ticket, but the guy behind him was so impatient that he extended his hand with money to the counter over my husband’s shoulder and trying to get the ticket, even he was behind the queue, behind my husband. Other than that, queue was not really existed, unless there is an officer standby at the subway platform to command the passenger to queue up. And good work should be credited to Beijing subway system which arrange the officer to take care of this during peak hours.

But what really got me into thinking was my experience at camera service center where I was waiting for my turn to fix my camera. I was waiting at the counter, suddenly a man dashed in and complaint about his camera shuttle could not turn on. Apparently he was there earlier on, sending his camera fix but yet the problem seemed to come back again. Somehow he and the lady got into verbal argument (I won’t say it is fight, but then it was quite loud) about his camera. I could not explain what exactly happen but then I have the hunch that both of them got into this unpleasant conversation was quite simply due to one thing: mistrust. The guy thought that the camera service center was not doing a serious job for him or wanted to charge him for the fixing fee, and the lady receptionist from the service center thought that he was just trying to fix camera after he screwed up the camera. Let’s say if both of them do not mistrust each other that bad and their common goal is to make the camera works, they should have be calmer and trying to figure out or testing the possibilities what went wrong (in this case, by testing the origin camera battery vs the battery the guy used) and get the satisfied explaination out of it. Instead, they were accusing each other of wrong-doing.

Lastly, I noted that people in Beijing (I am not sure for whole China) are very shy away from eye contact. Whenever I was asking for direction, toilet, price or anything, the person would answer me without having their eyes directly in contact with mine. Their eyes tend to look to right, left, far away but not onto me. Is it common? They don’t have direct eye contact because they are shy? Hmmm, something to ask my Chinese classmates…

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