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Published: October 17th 2011
The streets in China are strange and wonderful. We have walked everywhere we've been and we are always entertained by life on the street. Sometimes we blink as we see city commuters in their fancy clothes and we think they are just like us, but more often we are still surprised by a new sight that would never happen at home. We made a list over the last few days of things we all have seen and you know you are in China when you see them.
Crazy traffic. People crossing wide city streets anywhere, lane by lane, with police lounging at nearby corners. The entire family on a motorcycle with the child in front and no helmets in sight. Nice, wide bike lanes with motorcycles and the occasional car coming the opposite direction right at you. Electric motorcycles nudging you from behind on a sidewalk. Cars driving on the sidewalk.
Any service you might want (or not). Acupuncture on a stool on the sidewalk. People ready to shine your shoes or scrub your athletic shoes. Shoe repair and tailors with treadle sewing machines ready for any job. Dental services with hand drills.
Amazing snacks. Skewers of chicken
feet, pea popsicles, onion buns and pancakes. Plastic bags of fresh soy milk. Roasted walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts. Sweet potatoes roasted on the spot in metal drums. Candied plums, the color of maraschino cherries, on a two foot long stick. Pineapples cut while you wait into pieces with toothpicks. Tea shops with owners urging you in to sample as much tea as you can drink.
Games and exercise. Mahjong, elephant chess, and games with long rectangular cards on tables on sidewalks and in parks. Exercise stations in parks and along the street for many kinds of workouts. People walking down the street pounding their arms or swinging them rhythmically.
Fascinating clothing. T-shirts with unintelligible or meaningless English. People in their pajamas. Men with their shirts rolled up to their armpits in hot weather.
Beautiful sculpture. Families of elephants and elephants with fountains coming out of their trunks. An entire park full of tea sculptures. Dancing women holding street lamps. Lovely walls and walkways.
And always more. Babies with split pants and no diapers. People carrying live chickens home from the market. Buckets of water holding live turtles, frogs, and eels. White coats drying on a tree outside
a pharmacy. People reading newspapers pasted onto walls or billboards. People with handmade brooms sweeping sidewalks and streets.
Chinese streets are full of life and we'll miss them when we are back home.
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