China Negatives

Well, we have been here for almost seven months now, writing people and telling people about all the fantastic things about China.  As we are in the final throes of winter. we thought we’d write and tell you about the negative aspects of where we are…

Suzhou Weather:
As one young teacher who came to China with us this year said, “China weather sucks!”  We would have to agree.  On our arrival, it was hot, very humid, and hazy.  Since then it has cooled but the skies are almost never clear…there is a constant haze…no clear blue skies like at home…in fact the blue skies (even partial) are rare.

China "perma-gray" haze.

We are not sure if it is pollution, or just the weather pattern for here.  We have had a lot of fog lately, so thick that the buildings are invisible that are about 30 yards away.  The major highway to Shanghai was closed due to fog.  The picture shows the gray haze we see most of the time.  We have had snow a few times, one time enough to cover the ground for a day.

Winter heating
The temperature is cooler during February, in the 30s at times, which is about usual for outside this time of year.  Inside is a different question, as there is no central heat, and the buildings are largely concrete…so as the temperature drops the buildings cool off and stay cool.  The air conditioning units can provide heat…but it doesn’t feel right…it doesn’t really warm up the floors and walls…there are times when the walls “sweat” as moisture condenses on the cold walls.  We have to wear a fleece & slippers most of the time in the apartment.  We have had some weather in the 20s and it was quite uncomfortable.  We know, you’re thinking “20s, that’s nothing”, but add 70% humidity and it is a cold that gets into your bones!
Chinese chocolate
There is no good chocolate made in China that we have found yet…it tastes like wax.   Barbara says eating a bar is like eating a candle.  Yum!
Being a pedestrian in Suzhou

As the Chinese push forward with their progress, they all want vehicles…the bigger the better…and on the streets there is a hierarchy to size…here is the order from big to small…trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles, 3-wheeled electric carts, electric scooters, electric bikes, regular bikes, pedestrians…we fall into the last category (except when we ride the bus to/from school) and Barbara says the one thing she is really afraid of, is crossing the street.  Even though we see the walk sign turn green and post 30 seconds to cross the street..we have to look out for right turning vehicles…as there is no yielding to pedestrians…plus we have to look for e-bikes turning left to beatChinese traffic-pedestrians beware! the light before it changes for the left-turning cars…this is a real challenge too because the streets are wide and big to accommodate all the vehicles.  Just walking along the regular sidewalks is also daunting with the e-bikes who are not always in their bike lanes.  Someone we work with refers to the e-bikes as “silent assassins.” as he has been brushed by one more than once…

Tripping through China
China is filled with small steps that are not marked, so we are constantly tripping our way along.  Our daughter, who is a lawyer,  said that China would be a “personal injury lawyer’s dream.”  Tom was using the bathroom at the Suzhou Train Station where they had black tile, on the floor and walls, had a 4 inch step up (unmarked) to the urinal and he almost fell head first into the urinal!

So as you deal with the last dregs of winter, remember, we, too, are dealing with the last gasps of winter here.

Hope your winter finishes nicely.

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