After my recovery in Saigon, I did the train trip from Vietnam to return to China yet again. This time it’s travel at my pace. S-l-o-w.

I’ve been in China a little while, and forging solo has allowed for some interesting moments of discovery without distractions.

China is a combination of massive development, grit and well.. quirks. It’s maddening and delightful at the same time.

Not to mention familiar to me. Some of the habits that regular ol’ people do everyday remind me of childhood. Like, the spitting. It’s to cleanse out all that bad energy, but those human sounds of horking at six in the morning as I lie in my hard sleeper on a train? Well, I get kind of misty.

Mysteries abound.

The dogs:

At least he gets carry around service.

The drinks:

For only 8.00 RMB, you can sip some tasty corn juice, see it just splashing around in your glass?

Men’s hair:

Three guesses on how much wax they used for these dazzlers?

Women’s hair:

For some reason I feel like busting out into “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar.

The fashion:

Chinese women are fearless fashionistas. They are bold, causally donning what we wouldn’t dare wear from the catwalk. At any age! You might meet a 20 year old dressed as a cougar or a cougar dressed as a 20 year old. My favorite new site these days is Accidental Chinese Hipsters, thanks to Unbrave Girl for that find.

In Chinese fashion there are shades of ‘beautiful’. “Double beautiful” means those leopard skin leggings are so perfect that you might as well pair them with a leopard pattern sweater bedazzled with sequins. I have further investigated and also unearthed “half beautiful”. Half straight hair, half permed. Half coloured on the bottom, half roots showing. Ah, China. I admire these ballsy women who can do the impossible. Wear bad clothes endlessly in a variety of ways and places.

The “Chinglish”:

Uh, duh, let the ‘people’ decide. This seemed very nationalistic to me. Rah rah rah, communism!

The backward “look”:

I also witnessed people riding their e-bikes while wearing oven mitts, which were attached to the handle bars. These oven mitt riders move so fast I failed to grab a picture. I swear though, it’s true. Someone back me up here!

The snack food:

In case you’re unsure, that’s vacuum sealed chicken feet.

The karaoke:

Because Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is best sung to a virginal woman bursting with flowers from her face.

More snacks:

A bowl of jelly anyone?

What you can’t do on the Shanghai metro:

Uh, the begging sign could also double for a prison warning sign aka, don’t bend over in the shower or you’ll end up someone’s ‘girlfriend’ (that means boys who have sex with a male 250 lbs. ex-drug dealer named Cookie).

The mysteries unfold and fresh ones are on the horizon. When you feel frustrated with the pushing, the spitting or the honking, observe your surroundings and laugh.

You’ll find playfulness in the flamboyant quirks and quarks that is China.