China Research

News of the Road

Bus #86, we take it a lot. Over the course of this week, Bus #86 took us down winding streets to the badminton courts and downtown to the International Cinema. I heard a little bit more of Chinese culture.
At the badminton courts, I learnt the Chinese view of the human body, in a sense. It was said that we should not stand in the wind, take a shower, or jump into a pool right after exercising. These actions will harm your body as there is a huge internal and external temperature difference. Standing in the wind to dry off in your sweaty clothes is additionally harmful. It would cause your body to reabsorb the sweat that it previously eliminated, reabsorbing all the waste previously excreted. In addition, it puts wind in your body and in the long run, your whole body will ache and your joints will crack. I personally have never thought about it like that before. Nor do I understand how it works logically. But the owner of the badminton courts suggests that the best way to cool off after exercising is to change into dry clothes and then sit in a place that has a gentle breeze for at least one hour before showering or jumping in a pool. At times like this, I wish that I understood more about Chinese culture and Chinese medicine as it appears to be relatively effective considering that it has been around for centuries.
Watching Kongfu Panda 2 also resulted in a conversation about the human body from a Chinese perspective. I was eating popcorn (the type that is coated in sugar and not sold in the United States even though it is delicious) and one of my lab mates mentioned to me that if I eat too much, I am going to “Shang Huo”. “Shang Huo” literally means “increase fire” or “increasing heat”. By eating too much popcorn, I would increase my “fire/heat” and it would be bad for my body. Having heard of something of the sort from my parents briefly, I couldn’t help but be curious. How do you know what types of food will cause one to “Shang Huo” and what types of food will counteract it and “decrease the fire”? I never got a chance to ask. Though I did find out later that certain types of tea, especially chrysanthemum tea will decrease the “fire” in your body. Interesting.
I never realized how much of Chinese everyday life revolves around the temperature of the body. These two conversations were within 48 hours of each other. They also show that the idea of balance, yin and yang, are very important in Chinese beliefs and that one would get sick if the balance is disrupted. Thus, I guess it relates to the saying of “too much of a good thing, could be a bad thing”.
On a totally different note, I recently noticed the potential danger that every day actions may cause. In lab, I work with concentrated chemicals that can corrode, burn and blind. I’ve been on buses that speed down windy roads filled with pedestrians. Today I even witnessed a bicycle collision resulting in an old man getting hurt. But one of the most dangerous things that I find myself doing multiple times a day is, believe it or not, crossing the road to get to the Oceanography building. Busses and cars honk their horns at you, bicyclists yell at you and pedestrians expect you to cross ASAP because if not you would be in their way as well. Then if you are really unlucky, you get stuck in the middle of the road, tiptoeing on the white dividing line, hoping not to get hit by traffic coming both ways. But every day I’ve made it across this make-shift pedestrian crossing of black and white, where one is forced to learn precise timing and good dodging skills. I reckon that I will be very good at dodge ball when after this internship.