Weird Things That Only Happen In China
Here are some crazy facts about China you won't believe!Society
As the most populous nation on earth with more than 1.4 billion people, China has one of the most expansive cultures in the modern world. But just because it has more people doesn’t mean that all of China’s habits, rules, or routines are considered normal by everyone!
From bizarre delicacies and whacky wedding traditions to the strange reason why police forces are employing geese, there are some weird facts about Chinese culture that you’ll find unbelievable that happen in China every day!
Virgin Boy Eggs
The Virgin Boy Eggs dish is a Chinese culinary classic all the way from the city of Dongyang that dates back centuries. For this recipe you will need:
A large pot
As many chicken eggs as you want
And a boy, younger than 10, who is willing to give you his urine.
Once you have all that, let’s get started! First, place your eggs into the pot and fill with urine. Then, place over a high heat and bring to a boil. You want to leave them around 6 to 8 minutes for them to become hard-boiled.
Afterwards, take the eggs, crack the shells, and place them back into the pot of urine. Then, leave them simmering for up to 24 hours, to really infuse them with the flavor of the urine. Once done, the egg whites should be an off yellow color, and the yolk should be green.
There are a few reasons why these eggs will change color. One may be due to that when eggs are boiled for extended periods of time at a high temperature, the hydrogen in the white combines with the sulfur in the water (or in this case, pee) resulting in a green egg.
An egg might also turn green when boiled in water that contains a decent amount of iron, which is excreted in urine.
But why on earth would anyone do this? Well, Dongyang citizens not only claim their urine-eggs have a fresh, salty taste, but health benefits too, from relieving joint-pain to increasing blood circulation! However, modern scientific evidence doesn’t agree, claiming the urine doesn’t add any health benefits to the egg whatsoever.
You may also be wondering, why does it specifically have to be the urine of boys? Well, that explanation has been lost to history books, as Virgin Boy Eggs have been a cultural cornerstone of Dongyang for centuries. Though the taste has clearly lingered.
As the second richest country in the world, it’s no surprise that China is all about the go-go-go. But how do they remain so productive and efficient? What’s their secret? Well, it’s simple really: sleep!
Studies show that a good night’s rest can improve your concentration, learning, and reduce stress levels. In fact, a quick power nap in the early afternoon is proven to enhance mood, performance, and alertness. And the Chinese are well aware of this.
So much so, that napping, specifically an after-lunch nap, is heavily engrained into their culture. They have a common saying, which translated says, ‘at noon if you don’t sleep, then after noon you will crash’. And with that, the Chinese are actually encouraged to sleep during work hours, in hopes of being more productive!
Factories and offices up and down the country often enforce post-lunch naps! Why? This is tied to China’s 996 work culture which emerged in the 2000’s: working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.
This long schedule has helped drive an explosive economic boom across the country, but while it does include a 2-hour lunch break where they can take a nice long nap, you have to admit that is one very long work week!
With afternoon siestas being so normal, it’s also not uncommon to spot people catching a few Z’s out in public. In fact, some electrical workers will win first prize for dangerous napping habits on the job, by tying themselves to power pylons while dangling 160 ft in the air and getting some shut eye!
Having to climb up the massive towers is incredibly tiring, so to prevent them constantly climbing up and down, they stay up there all day, only heading down when it’s time to eat! That is what you call a power nap.
However, extreme napping isn’t just tied to work. In China, afternoon napping is encouraged right from elementary school. Take for example, the children of Gaoxin elementary school in the Shaanxi province. After lunch, the whole class will climb atop their desks and get to snoozing.
Furthermore, one school in eastern China is now having their children sleep in tents, as they claim sleeping on a wooden desk will result in poor sleep and spinal issues! Either way, even though napping is proven to increase productivity, I don’t think my boss will ever get onboard with the idea. I almost got fired last time he caught me sleeping.
Turns out that marrying dead people, or rather, ‘ghost weddings,’ is an ancient Chinese ritual that stems back some 3,000 years! In Chinese tradition it’s believed that singletons who die alone are eternally aggrieved and will consequently haunt their living family.
To ward-off the bad juju, the family must find another dead person for their deceased to marry; a phantom fiancé, if you will. Like a traditional Chinese wedding for the living, there are gifts, food, a ceremony, but, most importantly, a ritual that sees the corpse bride unearthed from her grave and buried with her new husband.
But how do families find other dead people for their deceased to marry? That's the role of the ‘Ghost Matchmaker’: a feng-shui master who keeps tabs on all the eligible corpses and corpsettes. And not only will they matchmake people who have been dead for a similar duration, but they’ll even try and pair corpses based on compatibility.
Yangtze River Turns Red
With their national flag being almost entirely red, it’s no surprise that red is a significant color in China. In fact, it’s said to symbolize luck, joy, and even ward off evil. However, it wasn’t all that lucky when their rivers turned red.
Stretching over 3,900 miles long, the Yangtze River is the longest in China, and actually the 3rd in the whole world! However, back in 2012, part of the river turned a peculiar shade of red. No one could quite figure out the reason although it was suspected to be the result of an illegal waste dump.
The main concentration of red was in Chongqing, one of China’s largest industrial centers. So, it seemed some kind of manufacturing waste product had been dumped in the waters, causing them to change to a ghoulish shade of red.
Waste disposal has become a lucrative industry in China, with the waste management market expected to grow a whopping 7% from 2019 to 2024 alone. Companies can further increase profits by employing middlemen to deal with the waste.
However, oftentimes the waste will get passed on to a secondary middleman, so on and so forth, until it eventually ends up being illegally dumped, such as in a river. In fact, reports state that in 2016 alone, nearly 10,000 tons of waste just from the city of Haining was dumped into the Yangtze River. But perhaps one of the most bizarre cases was in 2013 when some 16,000 pig carcasses were found bobbing along the river.
If you eat like me, you’ve probably been told, more than once, not to chew with your mouth open, don’t smack your lips, and don’t burp or make a mess at the table. Over in China however, I’d be celebrated for my sloppy eating habits!
In China, loud slurping noises when eating noodles and lip smacking isn’t just accepted, it’s considered a compliment to the chef and an expression that you’re enjoying the food! And if you’re full enough to belch, let it out! Because that too is considered a sign you’ve enjoyed your meal.
However, there’s one dinner etiquette I don’t think I can get behind, and that’s the cavalier attitude to spitting some Chinese restaurant patrons engage in. With many dishes involving small bones, seeds or skins, instead of tediously picking them out, it used to be culturally accepted to just spit them out onto the floor.
Traditionally, the act of spitting is seen as cleansing in China, and so it’s not unusual to see people still doing this. However, it’s not as accepted as it used to be, with cities like Guangzhou banning spitting in public back in 2020.
Overloaded Trucks and Bridge Collapses
Back in 2018, China’s total trade in goods was worth an astronomical $4.6 trillion, that was around 12.4% of all worldwide trade. However, with demand sometimes exceeding supply, transit vehicles across the country can end up being chronically overloaded with stock. In fact, according to authorities, as much as 80% of vehicles are overloaded!
Back in 2019, two freight trucks were traveling over an overpass in the Jiangsu Province. The first truck was carrying 7 piles of steel coils and the second, 6 piles, resulting in both the trucks having a combined weight of more than 100 tons.
The first truck managed to clear the overpass safely. However, as the second one approached, the entire structure gave-way and collapsed, crushing the cars beneath it. Luckily, the truck driver got off with just injuries, though the same couldn’t be said for the three others who sadly lost their lives.
And this wasn’t the first time this had happened either. It’s estimated an unreal 69 bridges collapsed between 2006 and 2016, due to overloaded vehicles. That’s around 7 bridges a year, more than one bridge collapses every two months!
Authorities are now cracking down on regulations and inspections, as to avoid any more incidents. But then again, people generally don’t care all that much about the risks overloaded vehicles pose in China.
Have you ever wondered what your own funeral will be like? Wonder no more, because there’s actually a place in China designed to give you the full death experience, minus the death part!
Located in Theme Parks in Shenzhen and the high streets in Shanghai, ‘Samadhi: the 4D Experience of Death’, is a sort of escape room that invites participants to complete a series of challenges to avoid dying.
Those who die will be laid to rest on a fake crematorium conveyor belt, which uses hot air blasted up to a spicy 40°C and light projections to create a so-called ‘authentic experience of burning’.
In fact, the creators, Ding Rui and Huang Weiping, were so dedicated to creating a realistic experience, that they actually put themselves through a real-life cremating furnace with the flames off.
Once the participants have endured the blistering blaze of the furnace, they’re then transported to a womb-like chamber, where they’re rebirthed, a sort of re-incarnation ceremony in line with the majority of traditional Chinese religious beliefs.
While you wouldn’t think a ride where you experience death would be popular, some 50% of Chinese citizens opt for cremation when they die. And with death playing such a positive role in Chinese beliefs, providing the gateway to rebirth, many a curious about death. So much so the ride itself raised more than $67,000 when it was first kickstarted.
Cops always have to be prepared for whatever’s thrown at them. Which is why one police force in China has employed the big guns! Well, big geese. A police force in Xinjiang have weirdly recruited a gaggle of geese into their force.
Geese are very vigilant animals thanks to their instinctually territorial nature, almost like guard dogs, but with wings! So, in October 2021, a geese army was deployed across 300 miles of China’s Chongzuo prefecture to stop the coronavirus from entering the country via illegal immigration.
Despite what you may think, this wonderfully weird approach worked, when in December 2021, a goose allegedly honked an alarm, encouraging the rest of the gaggle to do so, and alerting police to two people trying to cross the border illegally!
Children Must Visit Elderly Parents By Law
According to the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly People bill that was introduced in 2013, if your parents are over 60, you are legally obliged to visit them regularly. Also, Chapter 2 Article 11 dictates that the sons and daughters of the elderly must provide for them, take care of them, comfort them, and cater to their special needs.
However, with no one policing this, alongside some extremely vague terms and conditions, many have criticized the elderly rights law. It's unclear what exactly ‘special needs’ exactly mean, it could be anything from pureeing their food, walking their dog to becoming a human footstool.
Whatever the special needs are, if their kids don’t cater to them, the parent can apply for mediation and even take their child to court! However, if legally forcing your child to visit you doesn’t work, then probably nothing else will.
Sharp Pins In The Collars Of Chinese Soldiers
As the 3rd strongest military presence in the world, it’s not really surprising that China can be pretty strict on their troops. But some things are taken to the next level! Take for example ‘standing at attention’. Seen across most militaries in the world, this position is where troops stand with their chin up, chest out, shoulders back, and stomachs in.
However, China doesn’t take any chances when training their soldiers to keep this posture, so they’ve come up with a crazy method. It has been seen on multiple occasions that soldiers have a pin placed facing out of their collar, so, should they slouch or relax even slightly, they’ll be pricked by the pin!
We all know that chilis can be pretty hot, like life ruining-ly hot. So, what could be better than eating as many as humanly possible in the fastest time possible? Every year in the Hunan province of China, a chili eating contest is held. However, unlike other food eating competitions, this one sees competitors fully submerged in a bath of chilis.
Throughout the festival, which is usually held during July and August, every day competitors chew on chilis just to show how tough they really are. In fact, in 2018, Tang Shuaihui proved he was the chili champ after he consumed 50 of them in just over a minute. But this competition isn’t just held in Hunan.
All over China, spicy contests just like this one see people submerged in baths full of chilis, with every competitor chomping down! In other areas, like Hangzhou, hotels invite customers to bath in a giant hotpot while eating hotpot, which is filled to the brim with chilis! Seems like no matter what day it is, there’ll be someone in China willing to spice things up!
Chinese Weddings And Smoking Games
According to online sources, it apparently used to be a Chinese wedding tradition during the 80s and 90s for the bride to offer every man at the wedding a cigarette, which she would then light for him. Afterwards, she and the groom would then play various smoking games such as making a giant bong from an old Sprite or Coke bottle.
Some sources claim that the fun cigarette games would apparently put the two families at ease as they quibbled over seating arrangements. Not only that, but the bride and groom smoking together was also said to bring luck to the couple.
Giant Whale Shark Caught By Chinese Fishermen
Harvesting an average of more than 55 million tons of fish every year, China is the biggest consumer of seafood in the world, with its total consumption accounting for 45% of the global volume.
While the most consumed varieties are shrimp, squid, and plaice, back in 2014, a group of fishermen expanded the menu further when they accidentally caught a whale shark. The huge, 2-ton marine mammal had apparently bitten through their net in an attempt to steal some of the fish within. It then got stuck there and sadly died.
When the sailors discovered their huge catch, they reeled in the giant whale shark and, keen to make a quick buck, wanted to sell it for around $3,500. However, as whale sharks are an endangered species, anyone found buying or selling the animal would be guilty of multiple crimes.
This isn’t the first time a whale shark has been caught on Chinese soil, and anyone who’s attempted to sell it on in this way has felt the long arm of the law! So, the men had a two-ton carcass on their hands that they didn’t know what to do with. It was later disposed of by the proper authorities, but they nearly had whale shark for dinner!
China can be quite regimented when it comes to beauty standards. And what’s more, it appears that many Chinese citizens will go above and beyond to prove they fit the mold. For starters, weight is a huge factor.
Being as skinny as humanly possible is oftentimes revered, no matter how unhealthy it may be. There is a popular Chinese saying that ‘a good woman cannot be over 100 jin’, which is roughly equal to about 110 lbs. Just for context, 110-pounds is roughly the weight of a healthy 12-year-old girl.
To make matters worse, in 2019, an online survey in beauty standards found that out of 27 countries, China came out on top in believing that body shape and weight are essential for both women and men to be considered beautiful.
However, these body standards are heightened by internet fads that are designed for women to prove just how skinny they are. For example, the “ideal” waist should be no wider than a portrait sheet of A4 paper, or also that a woman’s legs shouldn’t be wider than an iPhone 6.
And if you really want to prove just how skinny you are, then you should be able to balance a stack of coins in your collarbone! That’s disturbing.
I think we can all agree, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and providing you’re happy and healthy, you’re perfect just the way you are! And if you let a weird internet fad convince you otherwise, you probably have more to worry about than losing a few pounds.
Split Pants For Chinese Babies
Babies are so darn cute but cleaning up their super full, stinky diapers is not so adorable. Fortunately, China’s thought of a solution to completely avoid the diapers of doom. It just so happens that many parents in China let their child go diaper-less.
Rather than a diaper, or letting the baby just soil themselves, they use what are known as ‘split pants’. That is, a pair of pants with a dedicated hole in the nether region, to allow the baby to go potty wherever they please.
And according to online sources, it’s pretty normal in China to see babies and toddlers squatting and squeezing one out in public, be it in the street, shopping mall, or even on public transport!
Double Eyelid Surgery and Eye Shaving
Our ethnicity is responsible for a large part of our appearance. And, in truth, it’s what makes us humans so beautifully diverse! However, it’s becoming weirdly popular to remove a predominant Asian feature, the epicanthic fold. It's a piece of skin above the eye that can give people the appearance of no eyelid, sometimes referred to as a mono-lid.
Due to evolving and western-influenced beauty standards, many think this makes the eye look small, and so to open up the eye they opt to have eye surgery or rather, a blepharoplasty, which on average can cost upwards of $3,200.
Essentially, the plastic surgeon will cut into the eyelid, remove the so-called excess skin, and stitch the eyelid back together, creating the illusion of a crease.
But that’s not the only eye-level surgery that’s popular in China. There’s actually a traditional treatment known as eyeball shaving. And it exactly what it sounds like. Chinese citizens can visit roadside barbers who will take a sharp blade, pull up their eyelids, and scrape along the lash lines.
Street barber Xiong Gaowu is a master in the practice and has been performing the treatment since the 1980s. He claims that as long as you perform this motion gently, there shouldn’t be any pain or injury.
The treatment is believed to improve ocular health as it apparently unblocks the meibomian glands, which can become blocked and cause discomfort. In the early 20th century, this technique was commonly used to treat trachoma, and infection on the inside of the eyelid causing ulcers and scar tissue to form.
And the practice has carried through to the modern age, where many claim this treatment leaves their eyes feeling refreshed. However, ophthalmologist, Dr Chao, warns that if equipment isn’t properly cleaned and sterilized, it could lead to infection. So, maybe It’s safer not to shove razor blades in your eyes after all!
I hope you were amazed at these strange facts about China! Thanks for reading.