I remember the good old days of getting carded in America. Not
for buying a fifth of Seagram’s in college with a fake ID, but cards you use
regularly in wallet. If you were like me, you have a license, credit cards, a library
card (which I last used to check out
Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies and have no intention of returning): gift
cards from Christmas past–including bookstores that no longer exist. You
might have frequent shopper cards, a Costco membership card, department store credit cards, a gas card and, if you
live in Chicago, multiple voter registration cards.
But the fattest American stack can’t compare to China’s plethora
In China, I have a card for every part of my body and then
I have my yoga card and Jeff has his swimming card.
Then, there is our joint account foot massage card. You get
five calluses sawed off for the price of four.
I also have a manicure card. You would too if you saw the quality of water
that flows from the spigot.
I m on the verge of getting a card for the blind masseuse.
No, the card is not in Braille. The blind masseuse does cupping as well. That’s
when they put cups on your back leaving marks like you were attacked by a giant octopus. The blind cupper
lights a wick under a glass cup, blows it out, and the smoky vacuum sucks out
toxins from your muscles –but unfortunately leaves the ripply remains of late night binges. The last time I went, the visually challenged cupper tried blowing
out the wick and the flame bounced onto the blanket and ignited it. I was
like a human chandelier clanking around trying to pat out the flame.
I still want a card.
I have frequent DVD movie cards, a bank debit card and a security card for my
building complex .
But with so many cards, the Chinese have made an business of
cards covers, which explains why my bus
card looks like an alien.
Many Chinese businesses
offer cards so you pay for your services up front and get bonus
RMB added to your account. For instance, my dry cleaner VIP card: I paid 100 RMB
and will get 130 RMB worth of services.
There are even frequent abortion cards to help citizens
comply to the one child policy.
The most useful of all cards is something called a cab card.
They are “made and traded” by Westerners. Cab Cards have common locations of Kunming written on them in English, Chinese and
When you hand someone your card, you hand it to them with two hands,
not with a quick flick of the wrist.
travel to the weird underbelly of this planet, be sure to bring your bank debit
Because the only card they don’t except in China is American
Express. Credit cards are as useless here as your verizon roaming minutes.
Before we moved to China, I had a lot of false beliefs about
this country. First, I thought if I dug a hole through my backyard in Michigan,
I’d end up in Tiananmen Square. Wrong, I’d
end up in the Indian Ocean. The second is fortune cookies. They aren’t the crunchy creation of a Chinese Betty
Crocker, but are an American marketing ploy based on a Japanese cracker recipe.
The third is church.
Yes, there are churches in China.
Before I came to China, I heard there weren’t any churches
here. Untrue. In a city of 6 million Chinese, there is not one but two churches
in Kunming. We’ve checked out the Chinese Trinity Church of Kunming, on Renrim
It’ a pretty ordinary church that looks like it belongs in Peoria,
Illinois, not Kunming, China. Other than that, it’s the same. Well, almost.
Since we do not speak Chinese, we get headphones where
everything is interpreted into English. Unfortunately, the headphones do not block out the live Chinese broadcast, so you get to hear the sermon in stereo.
And yes, there is
some creative editing of the Bible. The creation story is missing and so is
Easter, which explains why China lacks
an assortment of jelly beans and marshmallow bunnies in the spring. But for the most part, church is the same. If
the minister speaks longer than thirty minutes, the congregation gets fidgety, hoping
that the sermon is over before their Sunday roast—or Peking chicken—is done.
After church, we head to a little French fry place next to
the old Wal-Mart (pronounced war-mar). Fallacy number two deals with French
fries. China might be known for its stir-fry, by it has the best French fries on
the planet, hands down. Fresh harvested potatoes are chopped into hunky chunks then
fried in peanut oil and rolled in spicy “lao jao”.
You stab the sizzling hot nuggets with toothpicks. Not only are
they spicy hot, they can blister the top of your mouth. You get a hefty cup of
these tater gems for about thirty five cents. You tell
yourself you will only eat a few, then force yourself to stop
at half a cup. But before you know it, you’ve polished off the whole thing
wondering why you need to loosen your belt a notch.
While the potatoes swell in our tummies, we make way to the foot massage place to debunk a third fallacuy: a way to a man’s heart
is not through the stomach. The truth is, it’s through his feet. The Chinese believe that
those five little piggies are your body’s second heart and I think they’re on to
something. Along with massaging your
feet, the masseuse will work a few kinks out of your back. The foot massage
places have TV, too, so you can watch Chinese soap operas and infomercials for
prostrate shrinking herbs. Foot jobs costs about $2. Just don’t turn around and
look at the art work. The toes are scary.
Faith, feet and fries. When in China, ya gotta this trinity of actitivities. And that’s the truth!