Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Martin's Travelling (4)

After arriving in Pinxiang, twenty minutes later, the driver gave me a wry smile when I told him again that I needed to find an ATM before I could pay him. To his credit, he took it lightheartedly, and drove me 30m down the road to a bank. I trusted him with my main backpack, which he wanted as insurance in case I would run away without paying (not that I would have been able to outrun him with an extra 10kg). It was a big relief when the ATM spat out the cash, because, having cancelled my main Nationwide debit card in Hanoi, my Nationwide credit card was the only key I had left to access my money.

Pinxiang was my first destination in China and, despite being there for only half an hour, it was long enough to get some strong first impressions of the country that was to be home for the next few weeks. The first thing that struck me was the vast difference in cleanliness between China and Vietnam. Compared to that of Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the level of cleanliness was considerably higher. In China I saw rubbish bins on the streets for the first time since leaving Kuala Lumpur. There were no heaps of rubbish on the pavements, or bin bags full of rubbish on the streets. I have seen no street rats in China, something I saw quite a lot in SE Asia. Littering is frowned upon, whereas in the SE Asian countries I visited, bar Singapore (which was quite the opposite), littering was seen as the most efficient way of disposing of waste. It would then either get eaten by an animal, be washed away by rain, or be swept up by litter pickers.