These are the sounds of China:
- Incessant Hooting. Vehicles in China use their horns instead of their mirrors. At intersections, everyone just barrels through with their horn blaring, and swerves to avoid the vehicles in front like water swirling around a rock. The thing is, it works because everyone is doing it - it’s far more efficient than a bunch of cars waiting neatly in line. What you won’t hear is noisy motorbikes - unlike the rest of Asia, in China most of the bikes and scooters have been converted to electric motors.
- Hocking up a loogie. We can happily report that the Chinese penchant for spitting is alive and well. You’re never more than 30 seconds away from hearing (and if you’re lucky, seeing) someone bring forth a nice, juicy oyster.
- Sugary, tinny pop music. Everywhere you go, you’ll encounter schmaltzy music - even the buses usually provide karaoke on the TV. Just what you need for that early-morning journey.
- Shouting. People might be standing a metre apart, but they’ll be yelling like they’re on opposite sides of a busy road. At first it looks like they’re fighting, but every so often they’ll laugh, and you realise they’re just talking. The Chinese like to turn it up to 11 when they speak.
- “OK lay-dee, how much you want to pay?”. The normal rule of haggling is to pay about half of the vendor’s starting price. In China, it’s more like 10% of the opening price! Once you’ve started negotiations (eg, by looking at something on their stall) they will literally grab onto your arm until the deal is over.
- The N word. There is a word in Mandarin which makes it sound exactly like you’re filming a gangsta-rap video in south-central LA. We’re not sure what it means in Chinese, but they say it all the time!
-Crying babies - this you won’t hear. A baby will be on a crowded bus, with horn blaring and music screeching, surrounded by people screaming into their mobile phones, and it’ll be fast asleep.