Thursday, December 5, 2013

And Then There Are Days Like This

Living in China is an emotional roller coaster. One day you feel exhilarated; the next day you plan your escape, right down to the Celestial Seasonings you'll drink and the marathons you'll run when you're back on home turf.

Today falls into the second group. There are the journalist issues -- so many friends are waiting for their press cards, the first step in getting their visas renewed for the next year. Some predict that they'll get kicked out but the conventional wisdom is that China will renew them at the last minute, December 31, ruining many a holiday plan. (For the record, we have our visas, so we're good for a year.)

There are daily life issues. One friend reports her rent is increasing by 50 percent: highway robbery. Beijing, after Hong Kong, is becoming one of the most expensive cities in Asia, at least where housing is concerned.

There is pollution. Another friend reports that Shanghai is having a record beyond-index pollution day, around 500, as she drives to the airport to move back to the States. It's so bad that her plane may not actually be able to take off.

There are strange illnesses. Rotavirus seems to be going around the neighborhood, with at least one toddler and one thirtysomething with confirmed cases. It's a high-fever, vomiting, diarrhea kind of illness that lasts a week if you're lucky.

China is like the honey badger. She don't care.

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