Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Winter has by now come to Zhangye, and with it, Chinese snot rockets. It’s no secret to anyone who has been outdoors in China for more than 20 minutes that Chinese people like to spit. And they do the job, too—no quiet, subtle spit, but rather a nasal-cleansing, monstrous loogie, the preparation of which can be heard a kilometer away. The floors of buildings, including restaurants, are by no means out of bounds, and women join in too. The spitting I can nearly get used to, even laugh at a particularly powerful one, but the snot rockets still bother me. This is a special treat of wintertime, in which a pedestrian feels that a normal spit won’t get the job done, and keeps one nostril closed with his finger while the other launches a mucous missile onto the pavement. But you’re unlikely to see a Chinese person blow his or her nose, especially at a meal—that would be rude.

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