China 101 - Observations
Sep 21, 2013 | Written by Anupa Mueller
In no particular order, here are some general observations:
There is no shortage of electricity or water all over China. We saw 4-story cold storages with temperatures below freezing and they could not even understand our questions about voltage instability or back-up generators. They emphasized that these were just not a problem. You can be in rural areas and still have running water. Potable water is not available. Bottled water is the way to go. Everyone has hot water and everyone drinks tea. Some carry their own tea tumblers with green leaf and hot water is available everywhere and they just re-infuse their leaves. A glass of green tea greeted us at all places. And yes, they place it right on top of their beautiful wood tables without any coasters or worry of water stains. At lunch, where everyone is invited including the driver and all levels of managers and workers, the highest ranking person sits farthest away from the door and the lowliest ranking person sits closest to the door. Etiquette requires that when the senior-most person attempts to sit closest to the door, he is gently but firmly directed to the ranking spot. Guests serve themselves first. The Toasting Glass is only used for toasts and not for general drinking. Numerous toasts are made between guests and hosts. No napkins are used but every table is provided with several boxes of tissues. In this picture you will see glasses lined up for toasts with tea served in separate cups. We were told that at home, rice was served at the beginning with the meal but at restaurants, rice came last. We saw very little starch and no dairy of any kind. Heavy desserts did not follow any meals. Sometimes, red bean paste, slightly sweetened, was served as a filling in steamed or fried patties but they were not meant as dessert. Fruit was served at every conference table along with our tea and sometimes as dessert. Steamed buns of every kind were served at various meals. Noodles were part of soups. Vegetables included mushrooms of various kinds, beans, lotus root, tarot, tofu and egg as the proteins, peppers, bok choy, bamboo shoots, cucumber, zucchini, spinach and several vegetables we did not recognize. Potatoes were served once. Most preparations were delicious. All of us were vegetarian. Yoghurt was included one morning in our boxed breakfast provided by the hotel and it was more like a shake than the yoghurt we are accustomed to here. A straw came with it rather than a spoon.