The thing I was most scared of, before moving out here to the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere was not the isolation, the language barrier, or the violent riots three years ago that so damaged the reputation of this region (yes we feel safe and, oddly, I’ve never had anyone warm me against going to London…)
No, what scared this warm-weather-girl were the climate charts… read ‘em and weep. I did! This is a city at high altitude, and its claim to fame is that it’s the most inland city on the planet. Yeah, I bet you’re jealous of us now!
It’s not that mainland Chinese are impolite it’s just that… okay, this one is hard to explain. For example, roughly shoving someone out of the way on public transport or poking somebody in the kidneys is entirely acceptable and the locals don’t bat an eyelid. This drives me crazy and I’m not the only one.
One of the most entertaining sights I’ve seen here in Urumqi was a friendly older American man we’ve bumped into on a few occasions: on this occasion he was in full flight at the doors on a bus, turning in small circles, waving his finger and shouting “don’t push me, don’t push me, no pushing, don’t you dare push me” at bemused Chinese, who were no doubt wondering why the crazy laowai wasn’t going to let them off at their stop. Nothing shouts ‘time for a holiday’ like the desire to take on all one billion Chinese over the shoving issue!