It is truly a different world.

In each country there are things that happen or things you read that remind you just how upside down the world is that surrounds you.  On my recent trip back to the states, I purchased some 2-way radios for the trucks.  When I was meandering about town trying to find the best setup I found myself in a shop catering mostly to long distance truckers passing through Denver. Inside I explained just what I was up to and the manager looked at me in surprise.  He could not believe that I was only in Mongolia days earlier and now standing right in front of him.

He informed me that the CBs may not be legal in some of the countries that we would be traveling through. I replied by saying, “That’s okay, we can just pay a ‘fee’ to the customs officers and we will be on our way.”

“But, won’t that get expensive?” he replied.

I informed him that these fees are sometimes one or two dollars.  A gentleman behind me interjected, “Man, you really are living in a different world right now, aren’t you?” The truth is we are.  Some days it seems we are so used to it that I surprise my own self with the thoughts I have in my head. I expect it to take 2-3 times as long to get anything done than it would in Western countries.  When we cross borders many times I am surprised to see that the border is organized enough to have a logbook, let alone a computer. Just finding a place to withdraw money can take an entire day or even longer.

Many of our blogs speak of the different customs and cultures we have encountered, but today I have something really special to show you all.  It is a true testament to just how much thoughts, ideas, and the media are controlled in that backwards place we call China. Below is a clipping from a newspaper that one of our latest joinees, Tash, had tucked in her guidebook. It was published in the newspaper in Xi’an no more than 2 months ago.  This article looks like something you might read in a modern uncensored newspaper as a joke, or perhaps the local science journals in 1872.

An elder resident of Xi’an, surnamed Li, said that couples sleeping in the same bed was “not scientific and healthy”.

Li, 67, made a presentation to the city with his idea of separate sleeping arrangements for couples. “You have to take your wife’s breath, and you are disturbed by her moves in the bed with limited room,” he said. “How can you sleep well?” He suggested that couples be separated when they sleep. But some residents disagreed with his ideas, saying that couples should sleep together if they feel comfortable and happy, though other residents thought that Li’s suggestion had some merit. Health experts said that different couples have different ways of sleeping and they should choose whatever way is suitable for them.

Good thing they have some “health experts” on this one. For those of you that do not live in a country that has extreme levels of censorship, take a moment to remember just how privileged you are.