There are regional quirks that one gets used to when living in China (or any country, state, city, town); like, for example, the habit of some motorists to stop in the middle of the freeway and back the hell up, in high speed traffic, because they missed their exit; or the rice congee you can buy at KFC for breakfast; or the professional beggars who whip out expensive cell phones to text during their breaks; or the fact that it is nearly impossible to buy a dishwasher in Beijing.
Washing dishes by hand ain’t no big thing—but I prefer not to if it can be helped. Which is all the time. We have a dishwasher, but it’s on its last legs, so we set out over the weekend to find a new machine. Surely one of the largest electronics stores in Beijing would have one, right?
Well, it did. Just one. Literally. In a store overflowing with fridges, stoves, and every other gadget imaginable, there was only one dishwasher, and it was about a foot wide. Like, big enough for a bowl and a fork. The sales lady acted like she was going to pistol whip me when I asked if they had any others. Some nerve I’ve got!
Like I said, regional quirk. There’s no market here for dishwashers. People wash dishes by hand, and to do otherwise—even if you’ve got the most high tech gorgeous showroom kitchen imaginable—is seen as a total waste of money. Sanitizers are another matter entirely. Those are popular. They’re smaller than a dishwasher, fit next to the sink or in the wall, and after you’ve washed your dishes, you stick them inside and heat kills the germs. Although, to be honest, I’ve seen those sanitizers in action, and the only heat they generate seems better suited to cultivating germs, instead of getting rid of them.
Fine, man. Whatever works. But I’ll stick with the dishwasher, thank you very much.
Afterward, we walked a short distance away to the CCTV tower. There was a clown in the lobby. An honest to goodness clown with a painted face and a whistle, and those hats that have bells. I can handle a lot of gross things, but I have a true phobia of clowns. I can watch them on television, but I can’t look at them in real life—and I certainly can’t be near them. If he had approached—and God help him, he thought about it—I would have punched his lights out. Better safe than sorry.
That tower is full of odd, quirky stuff. Like, a viewing platform full of little placards that tell you how far away Hollywood (15989 km) is from that spot, and Central Park (19553 km), and 150 other sites around the world. You’re supposed to see all of Beijing from that location, too, but the smog makes that impossible.
You can also pretend to be a weather girl.