China – Wuhan ~ 2012
A move to a different country is difficult, you have to contend with a different time zone, a different language and a whole different culture. It can be pretty hard, but eventually you adapt. You get to know the layout of your city; you get a favourite café, pub and a place to hang out…slowly you learn that McDonalds isn’t the only thing you can relate to (not that you don’t return every so often/all the time).
Well this is the kind of struggle I encountered when I spent time in China back in 2012/2013. China (minus Shanghai) was not the super developed and technologically futuristic mega-state the Western media had led me to believe. It was in fact, very undeveloped and most of the time exasperatingly difficult to navigate. Sure, it was great that everyone thought I looked like David Beckham (I don’t), but even that wore thin pretty quick.
But after some time I got a little more acclimatized; it was never home (hence my short stay) – but I did start to achieve a small sense of normalcy eventually…it was the little things that helped to make this happen, one of which was that every Wednesday I would catch the bus into town to deliver some letters to my Mother and Grandma back home (I know, I know! I’m such a cutie pie!)
Anyway, so here’s the story…
It was one of those Wednesdays, nothing really out of place – I had spent the entire bus journey staring at the caged chickens some guy had brought for the ride, whilst the rest of the bus stared at me. I also wondered where the smell of fresh shit was coming from…seriously, urgh, what is that?! Oh yeah…the chickens. Silly me!
Eventually the trip was over, so I locked off my nostrils (the smell of street food has the potential to be WAY, WAY, WAY worse than anything a chicken could eject from its anus) and also turned up my earphones (because, China). I was ready, so I began my walk down the busy, bustling street; as angry street sellers waved and screamed in my general direction, (thankfully all I could hear was Nirvana.)
When I got to the post office I did my business, (which was largely made possible through a series of nods and gestures), after this I said my goodbye and stepped back out. I always had an enormous sense of well-being after this, not sure why – I guess I just felt like an all-around good guy (aka Mommy’s boy) afterwards, either way I always had a spring in my step and a smile on my face, the world felt right and the sun seemed to shine brighter – which is weird because you can never really see the sun, thanks to the MADE IN CHINA pollution.
However this time around my good mood didn’t last long…
As I am waiting at the lights, I see someone in the middle of the road in the bush covered “island”, on first sight it appears to be some unfortunate soul with a severe deformity, I feel bad (naturally) and I try not to stare (after all, I was taught it was rude to stare at someone just because they look different…the irony isn’t lost on me!) But I can’t tear my eyes away! This guy has some kind of mutant style spike coming out of his lower back! It actually looks kind of cool in a way…can I say that? But it did! I wonder if maybe he has a fully developed tailbone or something… who knows?! But wow…I haven’t ever seen a thing like that before! JESUS, JOHN – STOP FUCKING STARING! IT’S RUDE!
Okay…okay…well…maybe just one more time…I shouldn’t have, as that’s when his crusty tail fell to the ground and he stood up – “URGHAAAAWOW-NOOO!”
You could say the penny dropped I guess, but it certainly wasn’t a penny that parted with his backside. I suppose I was naïve, I hadn’t ever witnessed a fully grown human take a shit before, but I was filled with confusion…after all, there was a public toilet in the post office I had just left. Why did this asshole have to do it for all the world to see? (Please note: I’m not calling him an asshole, I’m sure he’s a swell chap ~ I’m literally talking about his ass hole.)
So, anyway…once I had threw up a couple of times I took the bus back with tears of self pity still in my eyes. I told my friends later and they found it revoltingly hilarious, rather than life-scarring, guess you had to be there. Should go without saying that I send emails now, no one is getting a letter ever again…it’s not safe out there.
More from this country below: