Shower in the USA by a Chinese

Among everyday habits and, the shower-in-the-morning vs. shower-in-the-evening is one of the real lines of demarcation between Chinese and westerners, and neither my Chinese-born parents (who never lost the evening shower habit even after 40 years in the US) nor my wife, who’s from Beijing, ever get tired of asserting the supremacy of the PM shower. And I’ve never kicked the AM ablutions habit.

I shower in the morning because it really wakes me up, and provides me with this nice mindless routine during which I can think about my day. It also keeps my hair from looking strange. On warmer days where I’ve conspicuously sweated during the day I’ll take a quick shower and not wash my hair in the evening, but I find that taking a shower right before bed makes it more difficult for me to fall asleep, possibly because I associate showering with wakefulness.

I fully understand the Chinese preference for the evening shower. You’re clean and comfy, bedding probably doesn’t need to be washed as frequently and so forth. But I just need that morning shower to feel fully awake—kind of like that morning coffee!


Lottery privacy

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but that large sum of cash often comes with overwhelming attention. In China, they have come up with a quirky albeit effective solution. A lucky winner from the Shanxi Province provided an entertaining press conference when he picked up his winnings, the equivalent of nearly $85 million, in a bear costume.

While it might seem a little wacky, it’s common for lottery winners in many countries to want to remain anonymous. We get it — once people hear of your newfound wealth, you’ll likely be bothered by exes, long-lost “friends,” and questionable relatives claiming to be financial experts. If you win the lottery in the U.S., only five states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, and Ohio) allow you to legally remain anonymous by keeping your name off public records.

In China, though, where press conferences showing the prize handoff are televised across the country, citizens have the option to choose anonymity. Winners playing dress-up to hide their faces are not unusual. In August, a knockoff Mickey Mouse took home a large check, and a lucky panda hit it big in 2011.

Though he looked a little out of the ordinary, the man in the bear costume gave the usual lottery win spiel: “I feel really excited. I think I will give part of the prize money to charity. I still don’t have a specific plan.” He also reminded us that winning the lottery is a gamble. “I never buy lottery tickets regularly. I buy them at random,” he said.

Chinese lottery winners pay a 20 percent tax on their prize money, which is about $17 million for the man dressed up as a bear. The shop that sold the winning lottery ticket must be feeling lucky as well. It received some money from the local lottery wellness center, and the owner says his business has doubled since the prize was announced. China, which started offering the lotto in 1987, uses the proceeds for social welfare.

Chinese lottery


A facekini is not from facebook

When you look at Kevin Frayer’s slightly unsettling images, you ask yourself if masked Mexican wrestlers have invaded the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao. But no.

China's Face-kini Becomes Unlikely Global Fashion Hit

The lucha libre look is just the latest in beachwear, a must-have for women worried about getting too much — or, um, any — sun. And while they may look a little frightening — “other people may worry you plan to rob a bank!” observed one netizen — they are the talk of the town, from China’s stodgy state press to supposedly chic French fashion magazines.

The facekini, or lianjini in Chinese, first made waves in 2012, when a bunch of Chinese women were photographed wearing them in Qingdao. An Aug. 19 report in Xinhua, China’s state newswire, said 58-year-old resident Zhang Shifan created the look to protect herself from jellyfish and the summer sun.

Pale skin is prized in China — so much so that the slang term for an attractive woman is bai fu mei, or fair, rich, beautiful — but even Zhang said she was caught off guard by the level of interest. “I’m so surprised that this mask is so popular,” she told Xinhua.


China fights smog

At the opening of China’s National People’s Congress on Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang said that the country will “declare war” on its appalling pollution.

Li described the issue of smog as “nature’s red-light warning against inefficient and blind development,” and said that efforts would focus on reducing hazardous particulate indicators PM 2.5 and PM 10.

“This is an acknowledgement at the highest level that there is a crisis,” Craig Hart, an expert on Chinese environmental policy and associate professor at China’s Renmin University, told Reuters.

Measures will include cutting outdated steel production capacity by 27 million tonnes this year, cement production by 42 million tonnes and the shutting down of 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces. Apart from curbing smog, Li also said that Beijing would aim to tackle the country’s severe water and soil pollution.