Monday, October 23, 2006

Alex Needs An Attitude Adjustment.

I must confess that I am struggling a bit in our travel through China, at least since we left Beijing. The accomodations have been great, at least clean and cheap and sometimes interesting. The cuisine is adventurous and generally very good. So I'm eating and sleeping quite well. What I'm struggling with are the occasionally (quite) overcrowded conditions, lack of the kind of modern sanitation we Westerners take as a given and the Chinese' disgusting habit of coughing up vast quantities of phlegm and spitting--on the street, the floor of a bus or restraurant, etc.

On reflection, I'm realizing that what concerns me is not the crowds, sewage smells, garbage in the street or spitting, but my increasingly jaded attitude in the face of these things. In past travels to quasi-third world cultures (Costa Rica, Egypt, Peru, etc.), I felt that I managed to appreciate the differences, in culture as well as hygiene, far better than I seem to be doing on this trip. And this bothers me. Intellectually, I know I didn't fly 15 or so hours just to see a place as gentrified as, say, Irvine. The whole reason we didn't hop aboard some prepackaged tour was because Heather and I are looking to be exposed to the genuine article, revolting smells and all. But while I know this intellectually, I'm having to continually remind myself.

Heather has been a saint throughout; she knows my troubles are brief and will pass. She keeps reminding me that India is less than a month off and, from everything we've heard, is guaranteed to challenge our patience. I guess I better get busy with that attitude adjustment.


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