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China V. Germany

Popularity 5Viewed 6199 times 2016-8-16 10:57 |System category:Life| cleaner, compare, exactly, former, people

I think it inevitable, as I wander around here, that I would compare my adopted home (China) to my former one. Here is how they stack up so far.


Cleanliness: a tie.


Although Germany has cleaner air and bluer skies, there are so many cigarette butts and gum wads and so much trash on the ground!

I have a new appreciation for the street sweepers in China, and for the people who meticulously scrape gum off the sidewalk. In the week I've been here, I've seen exactly 4 people sweeping the streets, but many sweeping machines riding around. The problem with those is that they cannot get everywhere there are cigarette butts.


For all of you who despair over how dirty China is: feast your eyes on this:



Transportation: a tie.


Both countries are gridded with rails; indeed you can get most anywhere here by regional, ICE, or S-Bahn trains. There are also nicely appointed long-distance buses, should the trains not suit you. And airports, of course.


S-Bahn – or strassen bahn (street train) - imagine a metro car running above ground: that's an S-Bahn. These run to outlying towns close to big cities. The are distinctly different from trolleys, which run on a narrower track and have a shorter range. Both of these as well as the metro has space dedicated to bicycle transport.


Small towns have more than adequate bus systems (which cannot accommodate bikes). Here the buses are clean and – imagine my surprise! have capacity limits firmly set: no stuffing as many bodies as you can on a bus or subway. In cities you have U-bahn (metro) and trolleys. Except for peak travel times in mornings and afternoons, you can always find a seat on whatever you're riding.

(The signs say: "Standing on the upper deck, on the stairs, and between doors 2 and 3 is not permitted" and “Meant for: seats 83 standing 45 wheelchairs 2 Seats downstairs: 28 Standing 45 Seats Upper deck: 55)


Whereas in China, buses run on an itinerary only, in Germany, they run their route on a timetable. So, while you can often find 2 buses of the same line one right after another in China, here it behooves you to know the bus schedules, lest you be stranded at the bus stop with the next one due in 45 minutes.


So, even though I rated both countries a tie because of the abundance of transportation modes, Germany should get slightly higher marks for not packing their vehicles full and for following a strict schedule as well as for allowing bikes on most of their transports.


Hospitality: China


My friends, China has got it all over Germany as far as hospitality goes. In China, even the poorest hotel room offers air conditioning, house slippers and a kettle. I've yet to see a one-person (single) bed in any Chinese hotel room. Most hotels I've stayed at in China have a full range of toiletries – although, I have been recently informed that that is a vanishing practice.


Imagine my surprise when I checked into my hotel in Frankfurt to find a single bed (what is known as a twin bed) and no amenities; not even air conditioning – and on such a miserably hot day! There was a fan in the closet, which I promptly put to use. The bathroom had no window and the door kept closing (I kept it propped open when I was in the room; otherwise it got too stuffy in there!)


In many restaurants, you are expected to clean up your table after you eat, here (there are strategically placed racks for you to place your tray and empty dishes on). I remember how shocked I was, my first time visiting a Chinese McDonalds', on seeing how everyone just left their trays and garbage to be cleaned up after they left. And then, I got used to it, mainly because it made sense: it is a restaurant, after all. Should guests clean up after themselves? Here, I suffered a form of reverse culture shock: I am now expected to clean up after myself – which means that, among other things, the tables get wiped down a lot less often than they do in China.


Tipping: a 10% tip is expected. After so long in China, where tipping is an embarrassment to the server and not at all required, again I am in a place where, after cleaning up my own dinner mess (and, in more modern establishments, bringing the food to the table, as well) I am expected to leave a gratuity.


I wish the practice of tipping would go by the wayside worldwide.


Whereas China's train stations and airports have water dispensers (choice of hot, room temp and cold water available in some places), and even America has cold water dispensers (they're not fans of hot water), I've yet to find a public place in Germany to fill my water bottle for free.


Food: tie


Having grown up on German food, I'm severely tempted to rate Germany as better than China. However, just as in China, there are questionable elements in German cuisine: schmalz stulle – a piece of bread with lard smeared on it, and topped with onions and pepper. Hackepeter: raw ground beef/ground pork mix, smeared on a bun. Imbiss food, comparable to street food in China, suffered the same stigma as does Chinese street food – unclean and unsanitary, so, over the years, imbisses have had to clean up their act. I've not yet seen a mobile imbiss standthat were so prolific in my youth; all the ones I've found so far are firmly rooted in place.


That being said, I should now disclose the temptation to eat my way across the country. So many foods I've not eaten in so long! Currywurst mit pommes – a sausage drowning in curry catsup with a side of fries, and mayonnaise to dip them in. Döner kebap – a Turkish specialty of roasted goat or lamb, with shredded lettuce and a spicy sauce all tucked into a hearty bun. The afternoon habit of coffee and cake, that I've tried to emulate all of my life, no matter where I've lived.


And cake is so abundant, here!


In fact, the diet here is wheat-based: bread for breakfast and dinner – literally called evening bread (abend brot). The big meal is traditionally eaten at noon, and usually includes a salad, a meat and some vegetables and maybe some fruit.


For sheer convenience, I rate German food as superior. One can easily eat a sandwich while walking; that is not so easy to do with a bowl of noodles. German food is easy to cook and satisfying, and eating the big meal of the day at noon makes good sense. Very little German food is fried; more often you are likely to find boiled or baked specialties.


For culinary culture, China gets the higher marks.


Society: Germany


The main reason I rank here higher than China is because, in the week I've been here, I've seen few people obsessively staring at their phone. Here, the pastime seems to be – GASP! - to talk with one another! Even on trains, people stare out the window rather than at their screens. I find that refreshing.



Drivers are so courteous, here! No need to fear getting run over in a crosswalk; people stop for pedestrians. And they wave back and smile when you wave your thanks. Nobody drives on the sidewalk, the bus lane or the bike lane, and nobody insists on their right of way; quite the contrary: drivers will insist that the other car go first. That can be quite comical, at times. On narrow roads, cars will tuck themselves into the shoulder in order to let the oncoming car pass.


On the downside: beggars seem a bit racist. I've witnessed beggars walk right past people of different races to ask me (and other whites) for money. It seems they favor white people. At least Chinese beggars are equal opportunity mendicants.


Perhaps it is because, for the past few days I've been roaming around smaller towns in the countryside, but people seem friendly, always ready to greet and chat. And 'Tschuss!' - an informal 'goodbye', usually shared between friends, pops out easily from storekeepers and casual acquaintances mouths. I haven't found any of that stark curiosity or assiduous avoidance practiced by the Chinese.


With that, I say Tschuss! And carry on my wanderings. Next stop: Berlin!

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

Flowers

Shake hands

Ray
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Comment Comment (13 comments)

Reply Report Chengking 2016-8-18 18:21
I would put German dessert in a distinct and separate category and rate it with flying colors. As with Chinese dessert, what Chinese dessert?
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-8-19 10:03
Chengking: I would put German dessert in a distinct and separate category and rate it with flying colors. As with Chinese dessert, what Chinese dessert?
LOL! Like you I believe German desserts are in a class by themselves and should be named an essential food group. No worries, I will be posting an entry solely on the food.
I soon learned, when serving a western meal in China, to put dessert on the table last, as a separate course. Otherwise my guests would inhale the sweets before any other food or worse: combine dessert with the main course (mashed potato frosted brownie?   . At first I was astounded but then... who was it that said: "Life is uncertain - eat dessert first."?  
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-8-19 14:17
thanks for sharing such a good topic, old friend, we have highlighted it.
Reply Report AndrewCraven 2016-8-19 16:09
When will you come back?  Before that I was wondering if you could bring us more comparison between the two countries.
Reply Report Newtown 2016-8-23 10:40
Chengking: I would put German dessert in a distinct and separate category and rate it with flying colors. As with Chinese dessert, what Chinese dessert?
Watermelon and the occasional mooncake. Chinese chocolate and their sweet tasting versions of bread are terrible.
Reply Report aa@edward 2016-8-23 10:44
teamkrejados: LOL! Like you I believe German desserts are in a class by themselves and should be named an essential food group. No worries, I will be posting an ent ...
The differences are:

1.  Chinese Starter Kit consists of pickles, nuts and salty vegs whereas western (including German) ones consist of slices of meat, fish, chips, etc.;

2.  Chinese main courses are numerous up to 10 dishes to be shared among all eaters / diners; whereas, western ones are often up to 2 for each individual on the table ( not sharing ) ;

3.   Chinese desserts are almost all being parts of the main courses and widely varied among Chinese ethnic groups ( 1.5 billions ); whereas, western desserts are often almost split out as ice creams, puddling, cakes, sweets, coffee, teas, beers, etc ... ..!

Nothing to compare; just being the cultural practices of yours and mine; isn't it true ?
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-8-23 20:07
aa@edward: The differences are:

1.  Chinese Starter Kit consists of pickles, nuts and salty vegs whereas western (including German) ones consist of slices of me ...
You are absolutely correct! Again, I point out that I am more drawn to German fare and eating habits because that is where I grew up. Thanks for spelling it out.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-8-25 10:55
voice_cd: thanks for sharing such a good topic, old friend, we have highlighted it.
I am glad you enjoyed it! Wish you a great day.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-8-25 10:56
AndrewCraven: When will you come back?  Before that I was wondering if you could bring us more comparison between the two countries.
I have now returned, my friend, and will be happy to address your question. But first, I have to look at your vacation pictures...
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-8-25 10:57
Newtown: Watermelon and the occasional mooncake. Chinese chocolate and their sweet tasting versions of bread are terrible.
The chocolate makes my mouth burn, but my grandson loves it!
Reply Report aa@edward 2016-8-25 12:20
CHEERS! GOOD TO SEE / KNOW PEOPLE ARE MORE RECEPTIVE AND OPEN MINDED.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-9-2 17:39
AndrewCraven: When will you come back?  Before that I was wondering if you could bring us more comparison between the two countries.
More comparisons coming up in my next article, which I dedicate to you, my dear friend!
Reply Report AndrewCraven 2016-9-2 20:47
Wow, that would be great! I am looking forward to it.

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