China Life: Things you don’t see in America

As you can imagine, there are a lot of things around here that are just different than we’re used to. We got here expecting things to be different. I think it’s important when you move to a foreign country to not expect it be like home. They are going to do things differently. And rather than let it bother me, I try to enjoy noticing the differences. Most of them, I find very amusing anyway.

Like this, for example.

Lost in translation

Our apartment was unfurnished when we moved in, but the owner had left behind a few things. Most are useful and we appreciated not having to buy them. Things such as the appliances, iron, and mops and brooms, etc. However, this was left behind also.

Now I’m not sure whether this was purposely left here for us to use, or rather falls into the category of something the previous renters just didn’t want to pack. I’m guessing its the latter. At least, I would hope so.


Now, obviously it’s a trashcan. At least I’m guessing. But what is it really used for? It’s only 6 inches tall! Seriously, you can only fit like two tissues in this thing. You’d have to go empty it every other time you put something in. And if you’re going to do that, why not just walk to the bigger trashcan in the first place?

(And don’t get me started on the “bigger” trashcan. The biggest one you can find around here is the size that we normally use in a bathroom. Apparently they don’t produce much trash here, or else they take it out every day. Haven’t quite figure out how to “do as the Romans do” in this case.)

And did you notice the text? …it’s in English! (When you are surrounded by characters you can’t read, this is very exciting.) At first I thought “Great! They’re going to explain how I’m supposed to use this thing.” But wait… when you get a little closer…

It is refinement life

What IN THE WORLD does that MEAN?

Is that supposed to be English? That is not the English I speak. I mean I can read the words individually, but put them all together and… huh? Around here, we like to call it Chinglish. It’s when someone takes text in Chinese, and just directly translates it into English words without paying much attention to meaning.

Can you figure out what this is supposed to mean? If you do, PLEASE let me know. I’ve been racking my brain since we got here. Still have no idea.

This will forever be what comes to mind when I hear someone say “lost in translation”.


7 thoughts on “China Life: Things you don’t see in America

  1. I guess I could ask Toby to translate the trash can back for me but then i would have to show him your website and I couldn’t talk about his odd behavior either!

    Can’t believe you have moved to China for two years and I have a 17 year old “china boy” living with us for a year. I guess it is all what you get used to or how you where raised – but really? Passing up the chicken breast so you can eat the neck of the chicken instead? And the other day, Will (he’s 5) proudly shows Toby a pig’s ear he bought for our dog Hershey at the local feed and seed store. Toby says in his Chinglish – “Why you not eat this? In China this is berry Gooud!”

    Well, No, Toby. We don’t eat them in America! We actually produce enough hogs in our country that we get the pick of the “gooud” meat. We even have parts left over to give our dog a treat every now and then! But i did have to go on and tell him how we do sell pig’s feet in our stores and beef tongue. However, i don’t think i know anybody who buys them – but wait! Maybe the other “china boys” living here buy them!

  2. kudos on your blog. My best guess to solving the chinglish mystery is… “it’s the finer things in life that give us pleasure” or “it’s the little things in life that give us pleasure”. Maybe a letter should be written to the company (Jian Xia)…since they are still producing products with this logo. :P

    • They call it a dustbin, huh? That would explain something. Dust is about the only thing that cup could hold. :)

  3. i’m chinese, live in the states. stumbled upon your blog via Simple Dollar and thoroughly amused by your documentation of expat life. Anyways, that little bin is suppose to be for toiletpaper and other personal hygiene products as you’re not suppose to be flushing any of those “flushable” products down the poor pipe/sewer systems of China that will definitely not be able to handle solid material well.
    enjoy the rest of your stay!