After almost a week in the United States, this veteran Chinese has found the following things common on this side of the globe but unheard of in the commieland.

The Good:

  • People are nice in general. Don’t have to worry about being backstabbed by strangers, and asking for directions is easy like a breeze. Been doing that a lot and never once seen the all too familiar get-the-fuck-lost-you-suspicious-loser look.
  • 7-11 sometimes has gas pumps.
  • McDonald’s sometimes have arcade machines. Woo! Not only kids, now adults could also have some fun!
  • Mobile carriers have more reasonable contract policies. To get subsidies on phones, you just sign a contract, and pick a (maybe more than sufficient) plan. In China, you have to sign a contract, pick a (maybe more than sufficient plan), AND DUMP A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF MONEY IN YOUR ACCOUNT. The whole idea of carrier subsidy is to make your initial payment minimum, right? Doesn’t make sense if you have to pay what’s apparently “cut off” in the form of pre-paid phone bill.
  • Wildlife everywhere, and people don’t feel anything special about them.
  • Stray cats seem to be rare, and taken good care of.
  • Stray humans seem to be aplenty, without chengguan 城管 kungfu-thugs arresting them every now and then.
  • Theme parks are very logically designed. Exit is exit and entrance is entrance. You don’t see people waiting to take a rollercoaster ride blocking the way out. And theme parks do actually have themes. Found the Curious George section of Universal Studios really sweet. All things in that section combined tell a short story, with plenty of fun for kids. In China we usually pile up a bunch of similar-looking but totally unrelated stuff to make the place look grand.
  • Supermarkets like Walmart and Best Buy are a thousand times more interesting than their Chinese versions.
  • Drivers are super nice. You don’t see cars swaying back & forth across lanes as if not knowing which way to go, or rushing without pedestrians in mind. Feeling awfully guilty when we miss a green (actually white here) light but cars still wait there for us to cross the road. That happens a lot.
  • When service is involved, the quality is usually super good. Staff at hotels, parks, and shops are extremely patient, friendly and helpful. Same applies to public services. Asked an Orlando police officer where we could hitch a cab around the block, she made a phone call & got us one in no time. Chinese popular chain hotels like Home Inn are rendered almost inadequate. 
  • Good TV networks. Programs generally are not boring, and often enough quite interesting. Many ads are inspiring. Those TV shopping programs seem more sensible, not like those insane stuff you see on almost every Chinese TV channel after midnight.

The Bad:

  • Certain cities like Orlando is very much difficult for pedestrians to explore. I’m not only talking about low planning density or too big size. A lot of times I find there is just NO SIDEWALK. Worse still, when there is a sidewalk, chances are pretty good I find it coming to an abrupt end half way to my destination. And sidewalks are shared by pedestrians and bikers. Staying longer than a week without a driver license means you are seriously fucked, front & back & all over again.
  • The tax system is utterly confusing. Why not just build them into item prices? No matter what, the tax A) must be paid, B) comes from consumers. It’s not like you have an option of not paying that part or could haggle with your cashier. So why not put tax and the base price together, if only to make things more predictable? Even Japanese are doing better. They tag everything in two prices, one the actual amount of money you should pay, the other a base price without tax.
  • Domestic flights tend to charge for every single baggage checked, usually $20 to $25 for the first baggage each people.
  • TSA opens our baggage to see what’s inside. Even China, with supposedly inferior technology, could do the security check with X-rays. This Chinese sincerely begs TSA to A) stop doing that or; B) put everything back in their original orders or; C) don’t put the “we have opened your stuff” paper there. Right now it feels a lot like being laid by a hot babe, waking up the next morning only to find the babe gone and a $5 on the kitchen table. I will feel much better if you don’t make it feel like prostitution, or screw me secretly when I’m asleep without me knowing, or don’t screw me at all. Thank you big big comrade.

The Amusing:

  • Carrefour seems to be absent here. Buddy in Orlando said he doesn’t know what is Carrerour and there’s none of them in the town.
  • There actually ARE things labeled “Made in USA”.
  • The Holy Trinity of Totally Uninteresting Tourist Souvenirs: T-shirts, baseball caps, and magnets. And 13.46257 out of 10 times they are made in China.
  • The exits of tourist attractions are always planted in some kind of gift shop. Not so bad in practice since there is no staff urging & bullying us to buy stuff.
  • Unrivaled cultural diversity. All kinds of skin colors and accents.
  • Sense of distance is wildly different from that of Chinese. When an American says “it’s only 3 minutes driving away”, it means “you will be damned if you are planning to walk it”. They drive fast, and not troubled by abysmal traffic jam. 3 minutes in Atlanta or Orlando take you a looong way. In Beijing or Xi’an “3 minutes drive” more often than not means “maybe 2 minute walk, 5 at most”.