Ping Tracker

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1 Billion+ "The Human Problem"

As everyone knows, China has the biggest population in the world. As a consequence to this, China implemented the One Child Policy, China’s most well known law. [I won't do a One Child Policy commentary here and don't intend to write one unless people leave me comments and messages wanting me to] Besides families who can officially only have one child, many other parts of life in China are affected because of the potential infrastructural problems. 

Everything I'm showing you is real, in some cases, even normal. It's something you think would make life miserable all the time, and it is annoying at first to be in the middle of so many crowds, but you will get used to it. After I got used to it, I began to find it somewhat amusing, especially Chinese lines....Chinese lines are really funny.

Because of the simple factor of numbers, many aspects of life of China are vastly different from life in America.

For example - Chinese lines. There are so many people that people think that if they don't push people out of the way in order to be first, then they won't go at all. So, this is what happens. This is a "line" in the Lanzhou railway station from when I went to Yinchuan.

One of the most obvious ways in which the population problem in China manifests itself is in traffic. In China’s big, and even medium-sized cities, traffic is a huge problem because of the sheer number of cars on the road. People in China view having a car as a status symbol, a symbol of wealth and sophistication, so everyone who can afford a car will buy one. As a consequence, China’s roads are crowded with cars. 
This is becoming increasingly common.

Bigger cities limit the number of cars that can be bought per month, as well as restricting the movements of the cars. For example, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot go certain places on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, while the even numbered cars can go to those places. Even with these measures, private cars prevent the biggest infrastructural problem in cities. Cities cannot simply widen the roads, because in most cases, the road has already been widened and high rises or other businesses have already been built very close to the roadway. Chinese cities are packed to the bursting. No open spaces to speak of. 

Lanzhou, China is a typical example. If you click on this and see the full image, it's easy to see that there's really no free space to speak of. How would they widen roads? It's not the quick fix like in the U.S

Not only private cars, but taxis and public buses also clog the roadway. Because the people who cannot afford cars still need to get around, China’s public transportation system is miles ahead of most American cities. Every city has taxi cabs and cheap bus lines for everyone else to use. These bus services are necessary, because there is simply no way for every Chinese person to have a car and not everyone can afford a taxi. A bus ride in China costs 1元. Distance does not matter as long as you stay on the same bus. Because buses are so cheap, they are often very, very crowded, particularly on the weekends. 

When you get on a bus in China, especially on the weekends, forget about personal space. Forget about legroom and a comfortable temperature within the bus. You should probably also forget about standing. Sometimes, on the most crowded weekends, if the bus hits a big bump, it will be impossible to fall over because there are so many people. In the crowded buses, it is important to watch out for pickpockets, so constantly check that you have everything. 

Another way you can see just how many people China has is to take a train. Trains, with the exception of sleeping compartments, are packed full to the bursting with standing tickets and is not a fun way to travel. The sitting compartments of the trains are hot, dirty, and those who have standing tickets stand between the seats, between the cars, in the aisles, in front of the bathroom, and everywhere there is room. By contrast, the more expensive and vastly more comfortable sleeping compartments are the opposite. It is the train equivalent of first class and makes long trips more comfortable. A 36-hour train ride from Guangzhou to Lanzhou in a seat is not a fun time.

I was riding on a train with my buddy Benjamin Xi and he said "If you really want to get a look at China's 'human problem,' take a look around. He's right. The trains are a great example.

You can see the people sleeping in the, it's not fun.

Another obvious way the population problem manifests itself in is public toilets. Public toilets are few and far between because there is no room to put them everywhere and even the toilets are different. To save materials and also because Chinese people don’t like the idea of sitting on a public toilet seat, the Chinese have what are called “squatty potties.” The toilet bowl is built into the ground and the user puts both feet on either side and squats to do their business (bring your own paper). This part of Chinese life will take some getting used to and there will be a time or two when you forget to bring your own paper. Ask someone for help or improvise.

You're lucky I put a clean pic up here.....Chinese toilets can be pretty gnarly...

It seems like something that's not a big deal, but China's huge population essential defines their lives. Transportation, "comfort", toilets, city planning, notions of privacy (almost none), a group mindset, and more are all defined by China's population. It's a serious issue. 

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