Remember back on my August 24, 2013 post after covering Riding The Iron Rooster I promised to find out if the Chinese still spit as profusely now as they did then. Well, we’re back with the end of the China saga and the results are not good.
Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present by Peter Hessler, copyright 2006, published by Harper Collins
Mr. Hessler lived in China but never seemed to travel around China. This is more of a history of the country, linguistics, archeology and frank greed. The government may still control their lives but by god they have a chance of getting a color TV and that makes life worthwhile. So here I picked the wrong book to compare to Riding The Iron Rooster.
Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation by J. Maarten Troost, copyright 2008, published by Broadway Books
Ok. Mr. Troost traveled through China by bus, train and plane and 20 years after the publication of Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux, he assured me (the reader) that upon stepping out of his hotel in Beijing:
“I stepped out and watched the doorman do his morning ritual, which consisted of purging an immense, glutinous loogie from somewhere deep within his innards, followed by the expulsion of a dribble of snot from first one nostril and then the other, and then, apparently satisfied with this ousting of liquids, lighting up a cigarette….It soon became apparent that somehow I’d have to come to terms with the interesting methods the Chinese use for expelling the contents of their noses and lungs. The Chinese have invented many things, but the handkerchief is not among them. I walked on and watched the residents of Beijing, young and old, greet the new day with an immense hawk and a resonant splatter, and then, just as I thought the streets of Beijing could not be further befouled, I came across a man who squatted beside the curb. He was holding a toddler in split pants over the gutter so that the boy could take a shit here in downtown Beijing.”
It does not sound as if anything has improved since Mr. Theroux’s travels through China in the 80s and I for one see no reason to visit.